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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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Sole parents, public policy, employment and poverty

Sole-parent families across the OECD are changing. There are more employed soleparent families than before, their families are smaller than they were a generation ago, and their children on average are older. Nonetheless, poverty risks remain higher for this family type than for other households with children. Policies specifically targeted at sole parents can help, but outcomes in terms of economic participation and poverty depend on whether countries treat sole parents like any other parent and provide commensurate support to help them match their work and care commitments. Such a general and “active” policy stance is effective in reducing benefit dependency, even when financial incentives to work for low-income sole parents may be weak. A considerable proportion of OECD children is eligible for child-support payments. Child-support policies can play an important role in improving the well-being of sole-parent families and in some countries they significantly reduce poverty risks for children in such families.

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