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Challenges for future family policies in the Nordic countries

Edited book
Authors Ulla Björnberg
Mai Ottosen
ISBN 978-87-7119-212-4
Publisher The Danish National Centre for Social Research
Place of publication Köpenhamn
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Keywords Family policy, Child welfare, gender equality, violence, migrant families
Subject categories Sociology


As a strand within the Nordic research collaboration, Reassessing the Nordic Welfare Model, nine family researchers, representing all five Nordic countries, had the opportunity to meet, analyse and map out current trends within the areas of family life and family policies in the Nordic countries in the early 21st century. What are the trends within the context of family life? To what extent do the Nordic welfare states deal with current issues related to children’s upbringing and family life? Which possible family policy challenges will the Nordic welfare states face in the future? This anthology takes following topics for discussion: issues related to family demographics; children’s position in the society and in the family; the child’s well-being; care policies in relation to children as well as the elderly; reconciliation of work and family life, and finally policies related to gender equality. To promote social and gender equality, the state has implemented a wide range of universal measures, such as financial support for families with children; leave to care for young children, economic compensation for single parents, and public care services for dependent family members, i.e. children and the elderly. Yet, over the past decades, New Public Management principles have become more prominent: for example, increased market orientation, private providers and choices for the users. Such trends are observed within the area of day care for children, but especially within the sector of home care for the elderly. However, the prevalence varies between countries. Another recent trend is that policies on children’s positions and rights have become more prominent as part of family policy. One can view the increased emphasis on children’s rights as a trend towards individualisation. The anthology highlights a number of family policy issues that appear to be unresolved, including: • In all Nordic countries, the fertility rate is close to the replacement level. Nevertheless, the level of fertility of differs for women and men. Men remain significantly more often childless than women. More knowledge about fertility in the population is needed, not only as a female, but also as a male issue. • Compared to other OECD countries, child income poverty is less widespread in the Nordic countries. In recent years, child poverty rates have remained stable, albeit at a slightly higher level. Yet children in single-parent families are persistently poorer than children in other family types. The anthology also points out that in particular, children in immigrant families have a significantly increased risk of being economically disadvantaged. • Although the Nordic countries are among the forerunners when it comes to gender equality, significant gender differences still exist within the context of adapting working hours to family commitments and allocating the unpaid work in the family. As a trend, women meet the family’s needs by taking part-time work: men do not. The anthology highlights a number of perspectives and challenges that family policy will face in the future: • An increasing number of children are born as a result of artificial reproductive technology, and this trend does not appear to stagnate. • Attention should be given to children and youth (often from disadvantaged families) who have limited education; those who are dropping out of the secondary education system; and those who are affected by youth unemployment. These young people are facing problems in being integrated into the labour market, and as adults they will be more likely to be poor and marginalised.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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