Edited by Sheila Shaver
Chapter 11: Social investment, poverty and lone parents
Transnational and supranational organizations as well as national governments in both the global South and the global North began promoting the social investment perspective in the mid-1990s. Within it, mothering, social care and the consequences of family transformation are at the forefront as social problems, and investments in human capital are preferred solutions. The perspective particularly targets lone parents because a primary policy objective is the reduction of poverty, especially the poverty of children in vulnerable families. Lone-parent families often live at the intersection of two risk factors; having only one potential earner and being female-headed and thus negatively affected by the gender wage gap. Nonetheless, the vulnerabilities of such families are not the same everywhere. Cross-national differences can be attributed to employment rates and variation in the systems of social protection and family policy. To unpack both similarities and differences, the chapter first examines data from across the OECD world. Then it homes in on three European cases from three welfare regime types – Sweden, Britain and the Netherlands – the goal being to tease out effects of intersections of employment and social policy. The chapter concludes by assessing how successfully the social investment perspective has addressed the needs of lone-parent families headed by women.
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