Work-Family Policy Reforms in Europe: Continuing Variety or Change Towards a Common Model?

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.2.04 (Tower One)
Agnes Blome, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Berlin, Germany
This paper investigates work-family policies in fifteen European welfare states during the last two decades in a comparative perspective. The goal is to provide the most comprehensive description of work-family policies in Western Europe. In particular the development of leave regulations and working time policies, the provision of childcare, child allowances and types of taxation schemes which favour the reconciliation of work and care are analyzed based on a comprehensive data collection effort. New ways of measuring policy change are presented. The policy instruments are compared in light of empirical evidence of their impact on the division of work and care in the household and the gender-specific (dis)incentives they provide. To what degree does a country support families with children and to what extent does the design of a policy support a male-breadwinner or a dual-earner model? This approach enables assessment of the overall degree of policy support in a country and the distinction of reforms that aimed at maintaining the status quo from those that led to a shift in work-family policies. Although an ongoing trend towards the support of the dual-earner model is clearly visible in the data, countries still differ in the current extent of work-family reconciliation policies and the pace and timing of political reforms. Moreover, hardly any country fits an ideal type of an entirely coherent policy. Different countries prioritize certain instruments over others, irrespective of the notion they have of any specific work-family arrangement.