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Doing Better for Families

image of Doing Better for Families

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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Reducing barriers to parental employment

This chapter provides an overview of how the design of parental leave policy, childcare policy, flexible workplace practices, national tax/benefit systems and financial incentive structures may affect the parental decision to engage in paid work. If paid parental leave is too short, mothers may not be ready to return to work and instead drop out of the labour force. At the same time, if paid leave is too long, skills may deteriorate and an extended absence from paid work can make the return to work difficult. Using data on parental leave reform, this chapter considers the overall effects of 40 years of changes in parental leave on female labour supply. The chapter also looks at how policy uses parental leave arrangements to promote more gender equity in leave taking. Childcare constraints play an important role in parents’ work decisions. Crossnational variations in childcare participation of 0-2 year-olds tend to be related to the degree of public financing of childcare. The price of childcare also plays an important role, and in some countries it does not pay to work once childcare costs are considered. This chapter also includes an overview of flexible workplace practices, such as measures to facilitate nursing, flexible working times, time-saving opportunities and statutory entitlements to change working hours.

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