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Paying for the costs of children in eight northEuropean Countries: ambivalent trends

Kapitel i bok
Författare Ulla Björnberg
Publicerad i Children, changing families and welfare states
Sidor 90-110
ISBN 978184542523-4
Förlag Edgar Elgar
Förlagsort Northampton, Massachusets USA
Publiceringsår 2007
Publicerad vid Sociologiska institutionen
Sidor 90-110
Språk en
Ämnesord child care, parental leave, family policy
Ämneskategorier Sociologi


The studied countries at a general level seem to pursue similar goals in that the adult worker family model form an active element in contemporary family policies. In particular there is an agenda where women are identified as working mothers and lone mothers as working lone mothers. This is highlighted by that substantial economic support are geared towards mothers who have qualified on the labour market, underlining that work is to be encouraged among all mothers. Fathers’ caring responsibilities are also recognized in all countries, at least in allowing rights to leave from work to take care of children. This plus changes in the family law, emphasising joint custody and visiting rights of non-resident parents (plus maintenance obligations)- all speak for increased state support and governance enabling children to receive care from both parents. The Nordic countries, although with ambivalent approaches, keep a high profile in pursuing measures for equality between women and men in family life and in work. The Nordic countries also follow a welfare tradition of equalizing living conditions for children at least in keeping children out of economic deprivation. Child care policies have a high priority although costs for parents and quality for children have been questioned. In the other countries there are clear national ambivalences however in the measures applied to achieve equal opportunities for mothers and fathers. Since in general mothers have more attractive conditions for paid parental leave these policies underline the basic assumption that mothers are main carers. Despite different policies this outcome also appear in the Nordic countries. Child care policies are important measures for the economic wellbeing and the quality of life of children. Measures are applied to reduce economic deprivation and enhance early education and care among children, but the tendency is clear that there is a polarization among social classes in terms of child care provision. Needs testing is far more applied in Germany, UK and the Netherlands – a kind of path dependency following the general welfare regimes in these countries. In all countries involvement in paid work, i.e. commodification is highly stressed. The incentives for full commodification of women are however not equal due to expensive child care and poor job opportunities. The study as a whole brings concerns regarding inequality among children and women in the development of the overarching march towards the all in paid work model.

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