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?

English Also available in: French, Korean, Spanish

Fertility trends

What have been the main drivers?

Total fertility rates have declined steadily in most OECD countries since the late 1960s. However, since the late 1990s there has been a fertility rebound in a large number of countries. Is this a temporary phenomenon, or a significant change in trend? To try and answer the question, it is important to establish the main drivers of fertility trends and how they have evolved recently. This chapter first reviews the mechanics involved: the postponement of family formation, smaller family sizes and the choice to remain childless. It then looks at the factors which may affect fertility decisions, including the direct cost of children (education and housing), and the indirect cost of foregone labour market opportunities. These vary with education and skill levels. The effects of fluctuations in economic growth are also considered. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the most promising policy initiatives to narrow the fertility gap.

English Also available in: French

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