Demographic Change and Family Policy Regimes
The DIALOG countries are experiencing long-term downward trends in fertility, leading to demographic ageing. Natural population growth rates are entering periods of declining growth or outright decrease. There are a great number of societal problems that arise from this demographic transition. Up to date, it has been disputable whether public policies have had any impact on population trends.
This article groups DIALOG countries into four family policy regimes based firstly on the generousness of the public support they provided to families, and secondly on their variant emphasis on the socio-economic and gender equity issues in their societies. In addition, the associations between the family policy types and the socio-economic clusters and demographic change and public opinion are presented.
Family policy regimes were found to have considerable overlaps with the clusters that were formulated on the basis of demographic, economic, social policy, employment and educational indicators of the same countries. Societies form their family policies in great part according to the monetary resources that are available in their countries. As an exception to this, some countries limit their public support to means-tested benefits for poor families, and they also pay less attention to gender equity issues at home and in the labour force.
These choices have been associated with demographic changes in these countries. Countries relying on the “Labour market” regime in their family policy had the highest fertility rates. In contrast, “Imposed home care” countries had cut down their income transfers and benefits to their citizenships. This transition was associated with very low fertility. DIALOG countries that had applied family policy approaches that were in harmony with the population’s family values had higher fertility rates than the other countries. This finding has policy implications for population policies.