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Family Demography in Asia

A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Preferences

Edited by Stuart Gietel-Basten, John Casterline and Minja K. Choe

The demographic future of Asia is a global issue. As the biggest driver of population growth, an understanding of patterns and trends in fertility throughout Asia is critical to understand our shared demographic future. This is the first book to comprehensively and systematically analyse fertility across the continent through the perspective of individuals themselves rather than as a consequence of top-down government policies.
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Trudie Knijn and Leila Patel

To combat child poverty, South Africa adopted and implemented an expansive publicly funded social assistance policy reaching 63 per cent of poor children. The Child Support Grant (CSG), fashioned on the notion of the ‘primary caregiver’, is gender-neutral and does not distinguish between family types in its eligibility criteria. It therefore represents a progressive approach to the design of child and family support benefits in a middle-income country. However, South Africa’s newly adopted family policy (White Paper on Families or WPF) in 2013 which advocates marriage and the heteronormative nuclear family model contradicts the earlier approach to family support. In this chapter, Knijn and Patel examine these two national policies that were adopted at different times in post-apartheid South Africa. They argue that the policies take divergent stands on the notion of families in the society and on the direction of social interventions. This reflects the ideological shifts from a progressive policy approach in the mid-1990s towards more conservative notions about families in the contemporary period. The authors commence their analysis with an examination of the CSG followed by an analysis of the successive versions of the WPFs (1997, 2005 and 2013). The two approaches to families and their relevance in the local context are compared and they conclude that the CSG is a more enabling family policy and is more contextually appropriate than the family policy presented in the WPFs.

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Daniel Engster and Helena Olofsdotter Stensöta

This chapter by Engster and Stensöta reviews the literature on the relationship between welfare policies, family policies and child well-being. The authors first outline some of the different ways in which researchers have defined child well-being, and then discuss current research findings on the relationship between general social insurance policies, such as unemployment insurance and public health insurance, and child well-being. The main part of the chapter explores the relationship between family policies including child cash and tax benefits, job-protected paid parenting leaves, public funding for early education and child care, and parenting training classes and objective and subjective measures of child well-being.

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Cristina Raț and Dorottya Szikra

In this chapter Raț and Szikra aim to contribute to the growing literature on family policy transformations by scrutinizing three less-studied post-communist countries marked by considerable inequalities. At the time of their accession to the European Union, Hungary, Poland and Romania revealed different models of ‘familialism’, largely rooted in their divergent historical development, despite some similarities induced by the communist regime. During the last decade, however, the main domains of family policies have known both continuities and changes, some of them potentially path shifting. In this regard, the evolution of family policy spending structure and selective outcomes such as the employment of mothers and child poverty reduction are explained in the light of developments in national family policy regulations and predominant discourses about ‘the family’ and ‘the nation’. The results indicate that family policy transformations have mostly favoured the middle class, while the effectiveness of combating child poverty has fluctuated over time.

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Guðný Björk Eydal, Tine Rostgaard and Heikki Hiilamo

The core aims of the policies aimed at families with children in the Nordic countries are twofold: to work for equality between children by ensuring that all children can enjoy a good and safe childhood regardless of family form and/or the social situation of their families and to enhance gender equality by enabling both parents to work and care. The chapter by Eydal, Rostgaard and Hiilamo discusses the main characteristics of contemporary family policies in the Nordic countries and asks if the family policies have reached this twofold aim, by investigating outcomes, fertility rates, labour market participation of parents as well as child poverty. The chapter takes stock of the Nordic literature on family policy and is based on policy documents and comparative statistics. Results show that parents are enabled to take on paid work, and active labour market policies and gender equality policies support the extensive care and family policies in this regard. However, the findings also show that while the Nordic family policy model does support the dual earner/dual carer model, it also contributes to gender segregation in the labour market. Despite the strong emphasis on providing care from both parents, Nordic fathers still take only a minority of the paid parental leave. Hence, ensuring childcare from both parents and providing both parents with opportunities to reconcile work and family is still an ongoing mission and far from being accomplished. Ensuring children’s equality through the family benefit system has been the other main goal of the Nordic family policies in line with the emphasis on equal income distribution in the Nordic welfare model and despite the relatively good outcomes of the Nordic countries in comparative research on child poverty, there are still groups of children that have not been ensured good and safe childhoods.

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Ji Young Kang and Marcia K. Meyers

Kang and Meyers in this chapter examine change in family policies that support parents, and particularly mothers, in their dual responsibilities as earners and caregivers in the home over a 20-year period in 14 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The authors begin by developing an integrated framework of welfare and production regime types that captures the interaction of markets and the state in distinctive family policy approaches. They further argue that taking market economies into account in family policy enriches our understanding of variations of family policy across countries. Second, using this proposed framework, Kang and Meyers examine specific changes of family policies in welfare/production regime clusters as well as those for individual countries within the clusters and find different patterns of family policy change across countries. Nearly all of the 14 countries expanded policies that support work/family balance and those that create incentives to degender caregiving. However, the authors observe much less expansion in benefits to protect family income and find evidence that many countries’ reduced policy efforts are likely to reinforce traditional gender roles. Furthermore, using the integrated framework reveals the distinctive trajectories of change of family policies among three welfare/production regimes that reflected existing institutional and political realities. The general policy approach of each cluster remained distinctive over time although there is some evidence of convergence, particularly in the CME countries (coordinated market economies).

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Rajni Palriwala and Neetha N.

With Independence, the promise of development, equality and social justice for India’s citizens encompassed women’s equality and child development. The growing dominance of a neo-liberal framework led to reconfigurations of children – from the nation’s responsibility to the nation’s future and thence to a development resource. The importance in official policy and discourse of the Indian family is repeatedly signalled, though there has been no explicit family policy. After a brief discussion of ideas and everyday practices of familial life, this chapter by Rajni Palriwala and Neetha N. draws out the implicit family model and family policy in Indian state policies and programmes – based on an ideology of gendered familialism. The policies discussed include those pertaining to wages and women’s employment, population control, child welfare and development, laws on child labour and education, and maternity and childcare provisions. Contradictions between ideas of family and intentions in policy statements and the divergence between these and programmes on the ground are evident. This not only reinforces socio-economic inequalities among families with young children, but acts to the derogation of children’s rights, gender equality and the caring relationship.

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Dorian R. Woods and Rolf Frankenberger

Little is known about family policy in countries which can be characterized as autocracies. This chapter by Woods and Frankenberger is unique in analysing some patterns across autocracies and addresses the following questions: (1) What variations in family policy are there in autocratic countries – in particular, what patterns can be found in autocratic family leave policy? (2) How might such variations be explained? (3) How can such comparisons contribute to further family policy and gender analysis? In particular, the authors examine how the characteristics of family leave policy in autocratic countries differ according to regime type in autocratic literature. With data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) survey, the World Policy Analysis Center and CIA World Factbook, the chapter examines maternity, paternity and parental leave and demographic data from 50 autocracies, designated by the Economist’s Democracy Index. The chapter’s mixed method analysis shows that four groups of autocracies emerge and autocratic regime types have at least some explanatory power for the overall and paid duration of maternity leave and the duration of paternity leave. Regional belonging, however, can contribute to explaining overall and paid duration of maternity leave, paternity leave wage replacement, parental leave duration and wage replacement.

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Megan Moodie

This chapter, which focuses on the history of the concept of reproduction in feminist policial economy, makes two related arguments. One is about the intellectual history of U.S. feminist anthropology and how it might reanimate reproduction as an essential optic for a political anthropology approach to global capitalism. The second is a more ethnographic argument about the American public sphere, specifically a set of contemporary discussions about social mobility crystallized in Robert Putnam’s book (Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis) and media personage, and how these might be critically examined using the approach to reproduction described in part one. A key concern of this chapter is to emancipate reproduction from the birth of children per se and ensure that, rather than a feminized side-project of anthropology or political economy, it becomes a key component of contemporary studies of global capitalism and attendant national policies.

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Barkat-e-Khuda, Md. Rabiul Haque, Mohammad Sazzad Hasan, Nurul Alam and Samiha Barkat

Bangladesh has achieved near replacement level fertility. Since the 1990s, the country has also been experiencing major demographic and socio-economic changes, which are believed to have influenced fertility norms and behaviour. Changes include a downward trend in childhood mortality; upward trends in education, especially female education; access to mass media; women’s status; steady economic growth and poverty reduction; labour force and employment, especially among females; and rising urbanization. Over time, fertility preferences have also undergone changes. Analyses, based on data from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys (BDHSs) from 2000 to 2014, show that preferences for more children among currently married women aged 15–49 years with two or more children are associated with their demographic, cultural, and socio-economic characteristics.