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Poverty & Social Policy Seminar: "The Political Economy of Family Policy Expansion"

  • Columbia University School of Social Work 1255 Amsterdam Ave, Room 1109 New York United States (map)

The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University invites you to a Poverty & Social Policy Brown Bag Seminar with Emanuele Ferragina, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Sciences Po.

DATE: Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
TIME: 12:00 - 1:00 pm
LOCATION: Columbia School of Social Work
1255 Amsterdam Avenue, Room 1109
New York, NY 10027

In contrast with the overall trajectory of the welfare state in high-income countries, family policy is expanding rather than retrenching. This expansion constitutes a ‘contingent convergence’ toward higher spending for childcare services and a more egalitarian share of leave among parents. We interpret this evolution in accordance with welfare state and political economy developments as part of two opposite movements. On the one hand, family policy expansion works coherently with welfare state retrenchment to help boost maternal employment in low-service sector jobs. On the other, it reduces mothers’ care-work burden, smoothing the shift from the male breadwinner to the adult worker model. The first movement characterizes family policy expansion as another tool to foster neoliberal capitalism and the advent of the Schumpeterian Workfare State, while the second supports working parents in meeting increasing childcare costs, progressively extending the so-called LEGO logic outside Scandinavia. An empirical analysis of the interplay between these two movements – based on the simultaneous expansion of childcare spending and the retrenchment of minimum income guarantees for couples with two children – reveals that the first movement prevails over the second in a large majority of high-income countries.