Evolving Family Models in Spain

A New National Framework for Improved Support and Protection for Families

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Spanish society values families and family life highly, but the way that families look and live has been changing drastically over the past decades. From being one of the countries with the highest fertility rates in Europe, Spain now has the lowest rate in the region and the legalisation of divorce and social acceptance of co-habitation has led to a decline in the traditional nuclear family model. At the same time, the share of mothers who are employed increased by more than 50% over the past two decades, though it remains below the OECD average. While family law has evolved quite strongly alongside these societal changes, family policy – i.e. the combination of benefits, services, tax breaks and leave arrangements that support family members in raising and providing care to minor children and other dependent persons – has undergone some changes but few major reforms. This report suggests ways to adapt Spain’s family policy to incorporate family diversity into the national policy framework, improve family well-being, reduce child poverty and make family life easier for all.


Areas for improvement in Spain’s family policy

This chapter draws on the description of the situation of Spanish families and of family policy to identify areas where changes could most meaningfully strengthen family support policy. It first describes the increasing diversity and the current legal treatment of families. Second, it outlines the extent and characteristics of child poverty and the degree to which the tax-benefit system addresses it. Third, if focuses on features of leave and workplace flexibility policies and family-relevant services. The final part of the chapter discusses the current status of vertical and horizontal co‑operation on family policy and the situation of monitoring and evaluation systems in family policy.


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