Examining public policy from a gendered intra-household perspective: changes in family-related policies in the UK, Australia and Germany since the mid-nineties

de Henau, Jerome and Himmelweit, Susan (2013). Examining public policy from a gendered intra-household perspective: changes in family-related policies in the UK, Australia and Germany since the mid-nineties. Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 3(7) pp. 1222–1248.

URL: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2296683

Abstract

Public policy can affect many different gender inequalities. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the effects of policy on gender inequalities within households. This paper analyses a range of family-related policy changes over the last fifteen years in Australia, Germany and the UK to compare their potential effects on intra-household gender inequalities. These include changes in parental leave policies, working time regulation, childcare support and financial support to families. Many of these changes are found to have contradictory effects on within household inequalities, mainly because those that improve women’s incomes in their current gender roles may also undermine incentives to challenge traditional gender roles. All three countries have implemented substantial reforms over the period considered. However, with labour market activation policies tending to favour an inherently unequal one-and-a-half earner household, the effects on inequalities within households did not meet increasingly egalitarian gender role attitudes.

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