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Morechildren in Europe with Swedishfamily policy

Europeanpoliticians whowantwomen tohavemorechildrenshouldconsider the Swedishmodel withsubsidisedchildcare andpaid parental leave. This is theconclusion of a newdoctoralthesis from the University of Gothenburg.

Thestudyconcernshowfamilypoliciescan makewomenhavemore children. 'This is animportantissue inmany countries,especially insouth and central Europe.Without immigration andincreasedbirth rates, the populations of Spain,Italy andGermany areestimated todwindle to lessthan 20% oftoday'snumbers over thenext 100 years,'says Andrej Kokkonen,doctoral student at the Department ofPolitical Science, University of Gothenburg.

The problemcan be solvedthroughfamilypolicies that areadapted topeople'sneed foreconomicsecurityoutside the family.

'If thegoal is to makewomenhavemore children, youneed toenablethem tocombinechildren and work,'says Kokkonen.

Subsidisedchildcare and apaid parental leave, as in Sweden, are thetwo key features of a nationalfamily policy that is centredaround theneeds of the individual.Subsidisedchildcare andpaid parental leave,where themoney ispaid to theparent whostays at home, provideeconomicsecurity for asingleparent incase ofdivorce or separation. Thistype ofsecurity islacking incountries withmoretraditionalfamily policies. Kokkonen'sstudyalso points to the strongeffect offamilypolicies onwhen in lifepeopledecide to form a family.

'Earlier studieshave missed thatpeople formfamiliesearlier in life incountries withfamilypolicies centredaround the individual. Italsoturnsout thatmorefamilies areformed inthese countries. Thereason is thatpeopledare tomove intogether and plan afamilyevenifthey are not sure that therelationshipwill last. People inmoretraditionalcountries aremorehesitant in this respect,'says Kokkonen. Thisalsoimplies thatfamiliesformed incountries withfamilypolicies centredaround theindividual are not asstable asfamiliesformed elsewhere.Subsidisedchildcare andpaid parentalleaveincrease thedivorce rate.

AndrejKokkonen'sstudy isbased on data from the European Social Survey.

The thesis " Bedroom Politics.Howfamilypoliciesaffectwomen'sfertility and union formation decisions" has been successfully defended on September the 23rd 2011.

For further information, please contact: Andrej Kokkonen Telephone: +46 (0)31-786 59 38, +46 (0)702 22 84 36 E-mail: andrej.kokkonen@pol.gu.se

idw :: 04.10.2011