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Andrea Lengerer (2004)

Family Policy Regimes in Europe and Their Relevance for the Change of the Family – An Overview of the State of the Art*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 29, 1/2004, p. 98-121, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

The present article focuses on family policies in Europe and their relevance for family change. It is assumed that family policy measures have no direct impact on the spread of different kinds of living arrangements. There is also no causal link between policy and fertility. But family policy has its own meaning. Family policy does not work as a determinant of behaviour, but as a constraint of individual decision-making on action. The consequences of alternative biographic options are affected by family policy and this, in turn, stimulates or prevents their realisation.

To find out something about the effects of opportunities and constraints provided by family policies, it is first necessary to point out their main characteristics and to classify their varied forms. Different typologies were suggested recently for that purpose. The approaches from Fux, Gauthier and Strohmeier will be presented and discussed here. They use different criteria to identify regime types of family policy and they make different classifications of selected countries.

Up to now there are only little empirical findings on the impact of family policy respectively on the explanatory power of such typologies. A relationship between policy profile and the forms of private life can be observed on the macro level. But if such a relationship really implies causality is not proofed yet sufficient. Further research is needed here. The fail to do such research is last but not least the consequence of a lack of suitable data, which means international comparative individual-level data.

* Original title: Familienpolitische Regimetypen in Europa und ihre Bedeutung für den Wandel der Familie – Ein Überblick über den Stand der Forschung (full text in German only)

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