The Future of Families to 2030

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
22 Dec 2011
Pages :
280
ISBN :
9789264168367 (PDF) ; 9789264118218 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264168367-en

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Since the 1960s the family in the OECD area has undergone significant transformation. In many countries, the extended family has all but disappeared, and the traditional two-parent family has become much less widespread as divorce rates, re-marriages, cohabitation, single parenthood and same-sex partnerships have all increased.  With rising migration, cultures and values have become more diverse, with some ethnic minorities evolving as parallel family cultures while others intermingle with mainstream cultures through mixed-race marriages. Families have seen more mothers take up work in the labour market, their adolescents spend longer and longer in education and training, and the elderly members of the family live longer and, increasingly, alone.  The repercussions of these changes on housing, pensions, health and long-term care, on labour markets, education and public finances, have been remarkable. Recent demographic projections perfromed by many OECD countries suggest that the next 20 years are likely to see a continuation and even acceleration of changes in household and family structures.  In particular, the numbers and shares of single-adult and single-parent households are expected to increase significantly, as is the number of couples without children.

This report explores likely future changes in family and household structures in OECD countries; identifies what appear to be the main forces shaping the family landscape between now and 2030; discusses the longer-term challenges for policy arising from those expected changes; and on the basis of the three subsequent thematic chapters, suggests policy options for managing the challenges on a sustainable basis.  

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    Foreword
    The OECD International Futures Programme (IFP) launched its project on "Families to 2030" in December 2009. Its aim was to identify and examine trends in household and family structures over the next two decades and to explore the implications of those trends for key policy areas. This was by nature an experimental project, since very little international work had been conducted at the time on the theme of the future of families. It was an opportunity to apply foresight tools to a new, relatively unexplored subject area.
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    Executive summary
    The aim of the "Families to 2030" project was to identify and examine trends in household and family structures over the next 20 years, and to explore the implications of those trends for key policy areas. The project was, by its very nature, experimental, since at the time very little international work had been conducted on the theme of the future of families. This was an opportunity to apply foresight tools to a new, relatively unexplored subject area.
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    The future of families to 2030: an overview of projections, policy challenges and policy options
    This chapter provides an introduction and overview of the main findings of the project on the "Future of Families to 2030". It explores probable future changes in family and household structures in OECD member countries; identifies what appear to be the main forces shaping the family landscape between now and 2030; draws on projections and scenarios to discuss the longer term challenges for policy arising from those expected changes; and based on the three subsequent thematic chapters, suggests policy options for managing the challenges on a sustainable basis.
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    The future for low-income families and social cohesion
    This chapter sets out the future of low-income families in OECD member countries to 2030. It starts by reviewing the current state of low-income families, how they have changed over recent decades and the factors that have driven these changes. It then looks at the influence that policy has had on low-income families and at variations across countries, examining the role of taxes and transfers, institutions, and policies towards families with children. It then looks at three specific issues for poor families: the persistence of poverty, the experience of young people, and migration. The following sections look to the future, examining respectively how low-income families might evolve in the future and at the challenges and policy responses that will be needed to deal with newly emerging issues.
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    Work-family life balance
    The aim of this chapter is to offer a holistic, forward-looking and multi-level analysis of pressing contemporary topics related to work-life balance policies for families with smaller children and to show how they interact with parents’ attitudes and practices. The first section presents a brief overview of current trends in the work-family life related areas. Then the main key drivers of change over the last decade are identified and described. Emphasis is placed on the dramatic organisational changes that have been taking place in the workplace and on their impact on the strategies elaborated by parents to combine their job with family obligations. In the last section, drawing lessons from evidence-based research and the latest data presented in the previous sections, we flesh out the two scenarios to 2030 developed for this purpose in the project.
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    The role of the elderly as providers and recipients of care
    This chapter discusses the developments, opportunities and challenges for the elderly in light of major recent or forecast trends in family structures and living arrangements, technology, urban planning and welfare state policies. It aims to contribute to the debate on the role of the elderly in family and society in 2030.
    The first section presents basic information on demographic ageing in OECD member countries. It familiarises the reader with the role of the elderly as providers and recipients of care in family and society. The second section focuses on developments in family structures, living arrangements and family practice; technology; and urban planning and housing. How do these change the role of the elderly? The third section analyses current family and care policies, their strengths and weaknesses. Future challenges for policy makers are discussed in the fourth section, which considers tight budgets, the conflicting demands of work and family, and social inequality. The last section presents policy implications for the two scenarios, "Golden Age?" and "Back to Basics".
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    Annex A: Project scenarios
    This annex presents the scenarios developed for the OECD International Futures Programme project "The Future of Families to 2030". The two scenarios presented here were synthesised out of the four that were originally developed during a one-day workshop facilitated by Fast Future Research at the OECD in Paris on 26 April 2010.
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    Annex B: Wildcards
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    Annex C: Steering group
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