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ERIC Number: ED478656
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-May
Pages: 50
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Family Policy in the US, Japan, Germany, Italy and France: Parental Leave, Child Benefits/Family Allowances, Child Care, Marriage/Cohabitation, and Divorce. A Briefing Paper Prepared by the Council on Contemporary Families.
Henneck, Rachel
Within the last 50 years, the work-family-household arrangements upon which social policy systems in industrial nations were formulated have disappeared. This briefing paper examines how social policies of the United States, Japan, Germany, Italy, and France have responded. The paper is presented in two major sections. The first section describes family policies in each country concerning parental leave, child benefits/family allowances, child care, marriage/cohabitation, and divorce. The second section discusses the mixed effects of maternity leave on womens employment, the lack of a relationship between fertility and maternity leave and fertility and cash benefits, and factors that complicate the relationship between countries' social spending and child poverty. Job-protected maternity leave is described as the most basic entitlement reflecting public acknowledgment of the economic necessity of working motherhood. Analyses suggest that fertility rates do not seem responsive to cash benefits or other policies, such as extended maternity leave, that function as wages for motherhood. In countries where child care provisions are not widely available, lengthy paid leaves have the effect of bringing women into the home for long periods of time. The most important role of cash benefits is to reduce child poverty, as illustrated by patterns in the U.S., France, and Germany. The paper concludes by asserting that Western European nations family policy can be divided into two types, one in which the social welfare system provides a comprehensive array of universal family benefits and services, and the other in which benefits are nonuniversal and accompanied by higher child poverty rates. The United States fits neither of the European patterns and is characterized by several contradictions contributing to the lack of political support for families. (Contains 98 references.) (KB)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France; Germany; Italy; Japan; United States