Family Policy and Child Poverty in Global Perspective

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Kenneth NELSON , Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Tommy FERRARINI , Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Sebastian SIRÉN , Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
During the past decades, family policies have often been expanded when other parts of the welfare state have been subject to retrenchment. However, research on affluent countries shows that these developments have been far from unilinear. Instead family policy diverged cross-nationally, both in content and scope. Consequences for child well-being have also been varied. Typically, variations in child-poverty among affluent countries are frequently attributed to differences in broad welfare state regimes; leaving unexplored the ‘black box’ of program specific attributes. Almost four-fifths of the world’s population live in low- and middle-income countries – additionally including higher proportions of children than most affluent countries. This paper extends the comparative analysis of links between family policy institutions and child poverty to include both high- and middle-income countries in transition. We thus initiate a debate on the role of social policy in reducing child poverty on a more global stage. A multilevel regression approach is used to investigate the role of different family policy dimensions in reducing the incidence of poverty among families with pre-school children. We use household income data on 38 countries from the Cross-National Data Center in Luxemburg (LIS) and new family policy indicators from the Social Policy Indicator Database (SPIN). Results indicate somewhat different associations between policy and poverty in high- and middle-income countries. Policies promoting female labour force participation have the greatest poverty reducing effects in high-income countries. In middle-income countries, the general level of support appears to be most important. The reasons for these differences are discussed in the paper, and ventures for further research are outlined.