Social investment by popular demand? The electoral politics of employment-centered family policy

  • Moira NelsonEmail author
  • Nathalie Giger
Original Article


Employment-centered family policies enable parents to combine work and family, thereby improving work–life balance for individuals and families as well as increasing GDP. For these reasons, these policies constitute a central component of the social investment approach, a model for how to design social policies for contemporary societies. This study seeks to understand whether voters enable the expansion of these policies and therein promote social investment. The literature suggests that voters may reward governments that expand such policies for reducing work–life tensions at a relatively low cost. Yet support may wane if voters oppose mothers’ employment or face few opportunities to take up such policies (e.g., due to barriers to labor market entry). Left parties are found to gain from expanding day care but lose votes for expanding leave schemes, a finding which partially explains the vote losses for leave expansion before the activation turn. Generous day care and leave schemes in the social democratic regime entail an electoral logic, whereby governments escape vote losses for the expansion of leave schemes and gain from expanding day care. The remaining results do not reach statistical significance and should be interpreted with care.


Elections Political parties Welfare states Family Public policy 

JEL Classification

D72 H53 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Political ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Department for Political Science and International RelationsUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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