Family policy in France and Europe : recent changes and effects of the crisis

Population and Societies

512, June 2014

Family policies are central to the well-being of individuals in Europe, but they differ substantially across countries. Drawing on the OECD Social Expenditure database (SOCX), Olivier Thévenon, Willem Adema and Nabil Ali describe the different policies in European countries to support families with children. They examine the modalities and the size of social spending on family benefits (expressed as a proportion of GDP), and consider how they have changed recently in response to the economic crisis.

The majority of European countries have seen major changes in family policy over the last 15 years. Butfamily support structures vary widely, reflecting different policy approaches across Europe. As wasthe case for all forms of social spending, the recent financial crisis prompted a two-stage response: first, a large rise in family spending, with family policy serving to cushion the effects of the crisis, followedby a period of spending controls and/or austerity measures. For some countries, these changes constituted a break with respect to earlier policies.In France, the planned decrease in family spending up to 2017 is centred around a refocusing of supporton low-income families and the development of childcare/preschool provision.

  • Olivier Thévenon - Ined
  • Willem Adema - Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques
  • Nabil Ali- Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques

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