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The Ecology of ChildhoodHow Our Changing World Threatens Children's Rights$
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Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780814794845

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814794845.001.0001

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The Role of Family-Supportive Policies in the Decision to Have Children

The Role of Family-Supportive Policies in the Decision to Have Children

(p.112) 6 The Role of Family-Supportive Policies in the Decision to Have Children
The Ecology of Childhood

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

NYU Press

Chapter six explores the relationship between declining birth rates and family supportive policies. Research on the social construction of parenthood shows that Italians continue to desire children and see parenthood as an important and fulfilling role. Disincentives to childbearing include economic insecurity, escalating costs of childrearing, and insufficient funding of family supportive policies. Rather than avoiding parental responsibility, fathers are increasingly involved in childrearing and grandparents and extended family provide significant caregiving support. The author’s field observations in the village of Scanno confirm the positive involvement of fathers, extended family, and the community in childrearing. The principle of duty on the part of government to protect and support families is embedded in the Italian Constitution, so there is broad support for policies such as universal healthcare, paid parenting leave, subsidized day care and early childhood education, and cash subsidies for families raising children. In the United States, traditions favouring individualism and assigning responsibility for childrearing to the private family have blocked the development of universal, family-supportive policies. Despite its wealth, the U.S. lags far behind peer nations in providing public support during early childhood, exacerbating inequalities between rich and poor children.

Keywords:   Parenthood, Childrearing, Paternity Leave, Maternity Leave, Grandparents, Extended Family, Childcare, Comparative, Preschool, Family Policy

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