Doing Better for Families

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All OECD governments want to give parents more choice in their work and family decisions. This book looks at the different ways in which governments support families. It seeks to provide answers to questions like: Is spending on family benefits going up, and how does it vary by the age of the child? Has the crisis affected public support for families? What is the best way of helping adults to have the number of children they desire? What are the effects of parental leave programmes on female labour supply and on child well-being? Are childcare costs a barrier to parental employment and can flexible workplace options help? What is the best time for mothers to go back to work after childbirth? And what are the best policies to reduce poverty among sole parents?

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Executive summary

All OECD governments aim to support families and to give parents more choice in their work and family decisions. Countries differ considerably, however, in the types and intensity of support provided. These differences are rooted in countries’ histories, their attitudes towards families, the role of government and the relative weight given to the various underlying family policy objectives, such as: reconciling work and family responsibilities, helping parents to have the number of children they desire, mobilising female labour supply, promoting gender equality, combating child and family poverty, promoting child development and generally enhancing child well-being from an early age.

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