The Complexity of Parenthood in Modern Societies

Chapter

Abstract

Parenthood in modern societies is complex. Institutional structures and social policies help to reconcile between work and family life. Five welfare state regimes are distinguished. The Nordic countries represent the social democratic type: an elaborate system of public work and family policies has gender equality and the wellbeing of children as an important goal. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands form the conservative corporatist type where the family is important, traditional gender roles are persistent, social policy is less individualized. Southern European countries form the Mediterranean type; they have few public provisions, gender roles are traditional and family problems are solved privately. The liberal type (UK and Ireland) views servicing as a market activity. Government involvement is limited; work/family arrangements are seen as individual responsibilities and left to market forces. The post-communist type used to have a broad range of public policies to support families but provisions decline after the transition. Low and late fertility is perceived to be related with general changes in the economy (rising levels of education and labour market participation, more prosperity) and culture (individualisation, exclusive and sensitive motherhood, traditional versus modern motherhood). In individualistic models of motherhood tasks are often equally shared. This may open the way to fatherhood as personal expression. Institutional arrangements do matter when it comes to the question how complicated it is to combine parenthood with paid work. Institutional support for parenthood is badly needed, as children are the promise and material for the future of society. The socio-economic price of having children should therefore decrease.

Keywords

Child Care Welfare State Total Fertility Rate Parental Leave Domestic Work 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.The Netherlands Centre of Ethics and Health (a joint venture of the Health Council of the Netherlands and the Council for Public Health and Health Care)The HagueThe Netherlands

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