The political economy of family policy expansion: Fostering neoliberal capitalism or promoting gender equality supporting social reproduction?
Review of International Political Economy
GB : Routledge
political economy, family policy, OECD, neoliberalism, commodification, gender liberation, childcare
This article presents a new theoretical and empirical approach to understand family policy expansion in relation to the political economy of welfare state retrenchment and social reproduction in 23 OECD countries. From a Polanyian perspective, this expansion can be interpreted as a movement toward commodification and liberalization, and a countermovement of gender liberation. The first movement seems to characterize family policy expansion as a tool to foster neoliberal capitalism and the advent of a Schumpeterian Workfare State, conspiring with welfare state retrenchment to encourage employment within an environment of growing precarization. The second movement appears to assuage the social reproduction crisis. This countermovement seems to act as a cushion to soften the shift from a male income earner toward a dual earner model, supporting working parents in meeting escalating childare costs. Looking at the expansion of childcare spending and the retrenchment of minimum income guarantees for couples with children, an empirical illustration of this concomitant ‘double movement’ reveals that the first holds sway over the second in most countries. Furthermore, household income and maternal levels of education impact on childcare usage, magnifying the negative distributional consequences of cutting minimum income guarantees in favor of childcare.