Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Setting the scene: The mix of family policy objectives and packages across the OECD

an article by Willem Adema (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)) published in Children and Youth Services Review Volume 34 Issue 3 (March 2012)


Although changing in shape and form, families remain the cornerstone of society. Across the OECD public policy supports families, but across countries the balance of underlying policy objectives can be different. For example, in some countries, family policy is largely driven by concerns about persistently low birth-rates while in others such concerns are not considered to be within the public domain.

Across the OECD policy-makers are concerned about child well-being and child development, but the intensity with which policy is driven by gender equity concerns varies considerably.

These different emphases on policy objectives affect the existing mix of policy measures, and it is therefore no surprise, that across countries, the relative importance of financial (cash and fiscal) supports, measures facilitating time for caring and family services (including childcare) also varies. However, for a coherent policy discharge it is vital that the different family policy tools fit together neatly, and do not leave families with gaps in support during the early life-course.

Moreover, for equity and efficiency considerations it is important that policy starts to invest in families with children early in childhood, while many OECD countries still leave it until primary school for investment to take shape.

JEL classification: I300; J130

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