Children of Lone Parents in Nordic Welfare States: Left behind or Ensured Equal Opportunities?

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:40
Oral Presentation
Ann-Zofie DUVANDER, Stockholm University, Sweden
Gudny EYDAL, University of Iceland, Iceland, Iceland
Children frequently experience changes in family composition during their childhood and the variety of arrangement of care and economic responsibility seems to be increasing. Such variety may go hand in hand with increasing differences in opportunities, living conditions and outcomes for children.

The paper analyses the situation of children living with one parent in Iceland and Sweden, two Nordic welfare states known for their extensive support to families, where both parents are encouraged to combine work outside the home and care for their children. The paper asks how this dual-earner model meets the needs of lone parent households and whether it ensures all children the same opportunities.

The family law in both countries emphasizes that all children are entitled to care from both parents regardless of their family situation or the nature of the parental relationship. The study will discuss whether this is attained and to what extent the social policies, e.g. family benefits and parental leave are supporting this goal. Here the residential situation, the contact with the other parent and how parental obligations are formulated and supported will be of interest. Attention will also be paid to children where only one parent exists, by choice or other circumstances.

Furthermore, as the poverty rate among lone parent families is high in both countries, it is necessary to scrutinize a variety of economic dimensions; lone parents’ employment rates, work hours and work conditions and how work-care balance is supported, for example by access to preschool and its opening hours. Furthermore an understanding of the fiscal support, including maintenance is important to gain understanding of the high poverty rates.

The paper will synthesize earlier research and draw upon data from policy documents, available statistics on description of the children’s situation, volumes of benefits and services, as well as outcomes of children.