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Employment & social affairs European Commission ■izhizifizi. show that nowadays young mentally committed to an people are staying much longer inclusive and cohesive society. with their parents. Last but not least, a recent study on several In fact over the last ten years, EU Member States has shown some important social challenges that problems related to the have emerged. The European family environment in which population is ageing. Across children are raised, may be one Europe, women have a new role of the main causes, together with to play in the economic and youth unemployment, of the social life. The combination of increase in delinquency and increasing education and higher crime rates observed changing attitudes means that among youngsters. employment rates of women are converging to those of men. In January 2000, I was en­Between 1988 and 1998, they These are some aspects showing Economic, technological, and trusted with the challenging rose from 45 percent of the that the role of the family re­societal developments have been working­age population to 51 mains particularly important for task of chairing the co­ordi­remarkable over the last few nation team of the European percent whereas those of men the future of our society. I am decades. Today, more than ever declined from 74 percent to 71 confident that the new political Observatory on Family before, it is generally accepted Matters. Established to moni­percent.



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Employment & social affairs
European Commission ■izhizifizi.
show that nowadays young mentally committed to an
people are staying much longer inclusive and cohesive society.
with their parents. Last but not
least, a recent study on several In fact over the last ten years,
EU Member States has shown some important social challenges
that problems related to the have emerged. The European
family environment in which population is ageing. Across
children are raised, may be one Europe, women have a new role
of the main causes, together with to play in the economic and
youth unemployment, of the social life. The combination of
increase in delinquency and increasing education and
higher crime rates observed changing attitudes means that
among youngsters. employment rates of women are
converging to those of men.
In January 2000, I was en­Between 1988 and 1998, they These are some aspects showing Economic, technological, and
trusted with the challenging rose from 45 percent of the that the role of the family re­societal developments have been
working­age population to 51 mains particularly important for task of chairing the co­ordi­remarkable over the last few
nation team of the European percent whereas those of men the future of our society. I am decades. Today, more than ever
declined from 74 percent to 71 confident that the new political Observatory on Family before, it is generally accepted
Matters. Established to moni­percent. At the European level, climate following the European that there are important inter­
this increased participation of Council of Lisbon will create tor the development of families actions between these trends. As
in the European Union, the females is likely to continue. more favourable conditions for the future unfolds, we need to
However, women still have promoting the debate on all Observatory is a key actor in ensure that the positive develop­
the European system of social particular problems in gaining issues related to social cohesion ments, like those provided by the
equal access to the labour mar­ and social inclusion including reporting. To fulfil its extensive information revolution are ex­
mandate, the Observatory ket, and also in reconciling population trends and family ploited to the full, and not
professional and family life. issues. works along several lines. allowed to create tensions in our
Every year a special topic is societies. The Lisbon extra­
selected as monitoring focus. ordinary summit Employment, Even though changes in lifestyle The European Union has an
For 2000, we analysed fertility Economic Reform and Social have been very significant, it important role to play in
trends, a topic also addressed Cohesion — towards a Europe of would be a big mistake to think identifying the similarities and
in the last issue of the Family Innovation and Knowledge has that the role of the family is differences in the ways that
been an important step in recog­ declining in importance. Social Member States react to these
nising the role of social policy in trends prove quite the opposite. changes. It can also keep stimu­
the strategy for the European With increased life expectancy, lating a Union­wide debate on
Union. By setting social cohesion it is not unusual to find today the subject of the family by objective, the Family Observer is
as one of the main elements of three or four generations living encouraging Member States to called on to provide its valuable
the European strategy for the at the same time, and increased share information and pool their contribution, by serving as a
future, the Lisbon Summit has demographic ageing is set to experiences while, at the same platform for discussion and
reaffirmed the European citizen make this even more common. time, respecting the principle exchange of experience and
that the Union remains funda­ Moreover, recent family statistics of subsidiarity. Within this last ideas between Member States
The Family Observer is a publication of the European Observatory on Family Matters. It is produced on behalf of the European Commission as part of the series "Employment
and social affairs".
The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of the European Commission, Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs.
All gender­specific terms used in the text also comprise the other gender.
The Family Observer is published in English, French and German. Reproduction is authorised except for commercial use, provided the source is acknowledged. For more
information on the Observatory, please visit:
Idea: Irene M. Kernthaler. Editors: Irene M. Kernthaier, Sylvia Trnka. Editorial assistant: Robert Bergknapp. Address: Austrian Institute for Family Studies,
Gonzagagasse 19/8, 1010 Vienna, Austria. Design and layout: Rudolf Heller, Edith Vosta, Ingrid Binder. Illustrations: Christine S. Prantauer
Translations: Eva Holzmair­Ronge, Gertrude Maurer, Gertrud Mayerhofer, Andrée Pazmandy, Sylvia Trnka. Linguistic editing of English texts: Suzanna Stephens
A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet. It can be accessed through the Europa server ( If you are
interested in receiving the electronic newsletter "Esmail" from the European Commission's Directorate General "Employment and social affairs", please send an e­mail to
empl­ The newsletter is published on a regular basis in English, French and German.
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2000
© European Communities, 2000
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. Printed in Belgium
Family Observer. No. 2/2000 Portuguese Observer. In 2001, the Obser­ Contents
vatory's work will concentrate
EU presidency
on social quality and family
forms. The objective is to Monitoring: Under the Portuguese EU- and family life for both genders
provide the European Com­
presidency, the European con­ and create conditions that The family roller-coaster
mission and the public at large
ference on Maternity, paternity enable fathers to become
ride 4 with information on develop­
and reconciling professional increasingly integrated into
ments in the areas of family
Family impact family life. Paternity leaves play and family life was held at the
and partnership, taking into
University of Évora in May an important role in this statements: Ireland 8 account aspects of gender and
connection. 2000. The main results are
generational relations. The
summarised below: • With reference to Com­
Observatory's homepage
munity Law, the Treaty of Family policy:
( • A balanced participation of
Amsterdam already stipulates
social/family/observatory/home.hrml) Family interest groups women and men in profes­
the equality between women
and the Family Observer ate sional and family life is a and their role in shaping and men by its new measures
the main channels for dissemi­ fundamental prerequisite for
to simultaneously implement European policy 14 nating the results of our work. the equality between women
the stronger participation of
We hope that this strategy will and men.
fathers in family life and of
not only contribute to a
• Motherhood, valued highly mothers in working life; the Equal opportunities:
knowledge-based policy in
in society, must not lead to the legal bases are contained in
Europe but will also enrich the European discrimination of women on articles 2, 3, 137 and 141.
public debate on the role of
the labour market. citizenship? 22 • Promoting the reconciliation family in our society.
• The time invested in paid
of professional and family life
and unpaid work must be
has the following advantages:
Social Report 2000: approximately the same for
- It creates new jobs in care
Rudolf Richter women and men.
How social is Europe? 32 services for children, the
President, Austrian Institute • As long as women have to
elderly and other persons
for Family Studies take on the lion's share of
dependent on care.
Chairman, European family work, there will not be Flashlights:
- It makes work places more
Observatory on Family true equality between women
attractive for employees, Family research
Matters and men at work.
increases productivity, and
in Europe 41 • However, cultural resistances
decreases absenteeism and
are particularly deep-rooted in Belgium 41 sick-leaves.
this area and solutions have to
Denmark 42
be adjusted to the realities in Maria do Céu Cunha Reso on demographic issues and
the different countries. President, CITE (Commission Finland 42 family matters.
• National and European laws for Equality in Labour and
Gabrielle Clotuche, Germany 42
must take due account of the Employment, Ministry for Director of Social Policy, DG for
Portugal 43 reconciliation of professional Equality)
Employment and Social Affairs,
European Commission
The Tyrolian artist Christine S. Prantauer, introduced to you in the
Dear reader first issue, has also illustrated this second issue of the Family Observer.
This time, she shows us women's everyday life: Such routine activities
The second Family Observer prepared by the European Observatory as shopping or washing the dishes are taken so much for granted that
on Family Matters might strike you as somewhat different compared they are hardly ever documented. This might explain why we often
consider these chores worthless... to the first issue: The cover has changed from green to 'mauve'. The
change of colours indicates that Unit E/l of the Directorate General
for Employment and Social Affairs, headed by Paolo Bacchielli, is At the beginning of 2000, the European Commission compiled for the
now in charge of the Observatory. The Observatory network has also first time a comprehensive report on the social situation in Europe. In
seen some changes: Rudolf Richter (of the University of Vienna and the future, such reports will be published annually. The European
President of the Austrian Institute for Family Studies) became Observatory is substantially involved in the preparation of the family-
Chairman of the Observatory at the beginning of this year. New related parts of these reports. You will find excerpts of the Social
National Experts were appointed for Greece and Sweden: Christos Report 2000 on page 32 ff.
Bagavos (Panteion University, Athens) and Eva Bernhardt (Stockholm
University). We would like to use this opportunity to thank their Happy reading!
predecessors, Helmut Wintersberger, Loukia Moussourou, and Ulla
Björnberg for their commitment and valuable contributions. Irene Kemthaler and Sylvia Trnka
Family Observer, No. 2/2000 -te à The family
Family indicators
What is the impact that
policies have on families?
How can we assess that
impact? A report on the
origins of family impact
Peter Guyver/ ond Gabriel Kiely
oliticians would be rather to see that this assumption is actually certainly is an important element. The
disappointed if their actions unfounded. Policies introduced to support a infrastructure for all families and the
were not to have any impact country's economy or its economic actors support for weak families have always been
on the individuals and do not adhere to this view; nor do the issues of governmental concern. Political
organisations that make up ministries of the interior or of foreign activities, such as changing from a profes­
society. This important but policy, let alone the ministry of defence sional to a conscription-based army (or vice
hidden assumption has been documented by assume that their target groups are weak or versa), deciding on a minimum age for
the recent surge in studies concentrating on on the verge of extinction. education, making laws on equal wages for
the effects of policy measures on such issues women and men, cannot but have an
as the environment or emancipation. Does this imply that it is totally unnecessary enormous impact. However, when speaking
Consistent with the belief that they are for a government to bother about families or of impact and effectiveness in the field of
indeed able to influence what happens, the impact that policies have on them? On families, the focus is usually on more overt
politicians frequently consider the targets of the contrary! Families function in a social and visible actions involving families with
their measures to be weak. However, one environment constructed by a number of certain types of problems.
has only to broaden one's perspective a little
actors, and the government or state system
Family Observer. No. 2/2000 Other countries (e.g. the Netherlands) held Democratic Republic, also were the first
the position that governments should not (and until now, the only) countries to issue
interfere in the private family sphere. family reports on a regular basis (GDR:
every five years; Austria: every ten years).
The next wave of interest in family affairs Other countries also studied the situation of
istorical set in after the Second World War. It mainly families in their territories. Like the GDR
focused on education and (dys)functional report, the biennial Italian report prepared review
families. Austria, Belgium, the Federal by the Centro Intemazionale Studi Famigha In Europe, family policy was introduced as a
Republic of Germany and Luxembourg did not restrict itself to the presentation of formal part of national policies in the period
decided to create ministries for family data but also focused on analysis. Of course, between the two World Wars, above all to
affairs. In countries like Spain and Portugal, reports on family developments and such satisfy the needs of workers and to support
the family theme was 'accommodated' in a related aspects as demography, income and their role as breadwinners. In some coun­
special directorate or government unit. education have been prepared in numerous tries (e.g. Belgium, France and Sweden), the
It is obvious that countries with family countries, but they have not yet achieved a concern about declining birth rates and/or
ministries, e.g. Austria and the German formal national status. the wish to raise them also played a role.
Family Observer. No 2/2000 j/lúshizjnnz)
family-policy benchmarking. In addition, In the past decade, debates on the equality
two other characteristics are essential. The of women, a rising awareness of child
first is linked to the issue of 'value'. As a abuse and the continued paradox of poor
combination of specific activities directed to families living in strong welfare states have
a number of goals in a specific field, every all caused governments to become more
model government policy is based on values and active. This also holds true for the debate
linked to opinions on the way society should on 'family values' in general. It does not for monitoring impacts on
work. Especially where families are con­come as a surprise that the first initiatives families
cerned, differences of opinion on policy to move from family reporting to family
issues are often rooted in value orientations. impact analysis were taken in the US, This article describes the initial steps made
These differences have to be taken into where the debate has its origins. In Europe, in the Family Impact Monitor project run
account when evaluating the impact of by the Netherlands Family Council and the the European Observatory on National
policies, while the specific method of Belgian Centre for Population and Family Family Policies was established in 1989.
evaluation has to be objective and scien­Studies. This project emanated from an Among other things, it took on the task of
tifically correct. The second characteristic assessing the impact that policies have on international expert conference organised in
concerns the relationship between the 1995 by Wilfried Dumon in Leuven. The families. Over the past few years, the idea of
government and families. This relationship overview of existing impact-analysis family impact monitoring seems to be
is not a one-way but rather an interactive methods presented at this meeting showed gaining ground.
process: No element can be seen solely as a that the main distinction was the 'subjective-
passive recipient of external influences. objective' dimension. The Irish case (see Governments have become increasingly
box) is an example of the subjective method. aware of the 'family dimension', and there
The implementation of real-life experiments is a growing need for feedback on the
Values and definitions:
in certain regions exemplifies the objective interaction between policy activities and
the hidden start of family policy
method. family development. The theoretical body
of knowledge on family impact analysis is A literature study preceding the project
not yet very impressive, and practical A grant from the EU was used to develop an showed that the process of developing and
implementing family policies can be divided experience is even scarcer. Considering the inclusive model. It not only comprises the
numerous dimensions of family policy and different aspects of the process 'from into three steps. All authors mention the
the complexity of the family as such, there politicians to families' but also a feedback first of these steps, i.e. agreement on a
is no doubt that assessing family impacts is system designed to provide the political level certain value system concerning families.
The second step relates to taking specific far from simple. with clear data (by way of indicators) for
action and comprises a number of phases.
Defining the 'scope' of the (family) policy
action (i.e. the range of policies or the
groups that are legitimate elements or The birth of family impact monitoring:
subjects for political action) is closely related
three examples
to the value system. Within this range, a
number of 'targets' must then be identified
before they can be translated into specific
In Belgium, the Flemish Minister of Family Affairs underlined the importance of family
political action (be it a new law or an
impact analysis in 1996. His successors introduced special 'child effect reports' to be
information campaign) in the third step.
prepared in connection with each major government initiative.
However, the political debate on the
selection of scopes, targets and actions is
In the Netherlands, in 1996 the government commissioned the compilation of the often 'blurred' because there is no clear-cut
biennial Signalling Report on family development. The report was commissioned by statement regarding the first step, i.e. the
Parliament in 1997 and again in 1999. agreement on family values.
In Ireland, the Commission on the Family recommended an unprecedented multiple Open debates on family values are rare, but
approach for assessing family impacts in 1998. First, any proposals put forward by the there is a useful 'intermediary' between
government should be accompanied by a 'family impact statement' to be included in the policy and practice: the definition of the
explanatory memorandum accompanying all new legislation. Second, any evaluations of term 'family'. In his address to the General
government activities at the central, regional or local levels should contain an impact Assembly of the United Nations at the start
analysis: In other words, they should be measured against a number of key principles of the International Year of the Family in
underlying all family policies. Though these proposals have not yet been implemented, all 1994, the Secretary General announced that
no attempt had been made (or rather that major political parties have subscribed to them in their programmes.
attempts had been fruitless) to arrive at a
world-wide definition of 'family'. Instead,
Family Observer. No 2/2000 The family roller-coaster ride
an interesting metaphor was chosen: A
family was defined as the smallest
democracy at the heart of society. This is a
political statement of the first order, since it
clearly supports the rights of individuals
within families and illustrates the socio­
logical trend characteristic of the 20th
century, namely individualisation.
In his analysis of the developments in family
policies in EU countries, Wilfried Dumon
points out the shift in the focus from the
bond between partners to the situation of
children. In the Netherlands, for example,
the recent political debate on (the lack of)
family policy and a ministry for family
affairs briefly introduced the definition
problem into the debate. The Dutch govern­
ment accepted a new definition focussing on
the position of children: A family is any unit
of one or more adults who are responsible
for the education and/or taking care of one
or more children. The opposition, i.e. the
Christian Democrats, opposed this with
their own definition: Any unit in which an
adult has taken a long-term responsibility for
another adult and/or the taking care and government activities officially acknowl­the empirical fact that people share a
education of children. The interesting point edged as being directed at families and dwelling and co-operate from an economic
is not the way the conflict went (the meant to have an effect on them. Implicit point of view. The next step goes even
Christian Democrats accepted the govern- policy is used for the combination of any further, since the focus shifts entirely to the
other policies from which one could expect
or predict effects on families, but which are
not being acknowledged as such. Naturally,
any political activity might also have an
"UNO: The family is the unintended impact on families. For impact
analysis, this seems to leave no other option
than taking into account all government
smallest democracy at the heart activities — which clearly would be a
hopeless task!
of society"
When starting the family impact-monitoring
project, we prepared an inventory of all
official political activities carried out in
Belgium in the field of law over a period of individuals who should be treated as such ment definition), but the clear juxtaposition
five years. The result was a hst of 3,500 irrespective of their living arrangements. of family definitions focussing on partner­
activities (i.e. 700 per year or two per day). ship and on parenthood. Finally, there are definitions building on the
This does not include activities not in need idea of 'networks' in society, both in a
of legal changes, nor does it include specific modern way (friends) and a more classical The literature survey carried out at the start
decisions at the highest level. The result was way (family). of the monitoring project showed that one
that you simply cannot avoid selecting can look at the family from various angles.
activities that may be expected to have the First of all, there is the 'classical' (nuclear)
Political activities greatest effects. Panels of experts are one family formed by marriage. Secondly, there
way of handling this choice, though this are 'modern' family definitions that focus on In their standard work on family policy in a
approach involves two major risks. The first children irrespective of the number, sex or number of western countries, the American
one is the selection process. Especially when formal status of the partners. Thirdly, it is experts Sheila Kamerman and Alfred Kahn
it takes place in close co-operation with possible to avoid all ideological debates by distinguish between 'explicit' and 'implicit'
government agencies, it tends to focus on focussing on 'units' or households, i.e. on family policy. Explicit policy stands for
Family Observer No 2/2000 jjlüshiufmzj
Another example are the 'lifecourse income families. For instance, parents reported that the more explicit political activities and
differences' that can be found between enabling both partners to stay at home hardly ever is allowed the time and the
various types of families and other during the first years of their children's lives money to assess effects in all the other areas.
households. We have been trying to assess was more effective than child-care The second problem is the lack of coherence
these differences on the basis of modern
lifecourse development in most western
countries. In short, the modernisation of the
lifecourse shortens the phases in adult life
during which children are part of the "Lifecourse income
household. This 'real family phase' is
preceded by periods in which young people
live alone or (most of the time) as couples. differences are a potential
family-policy indicator"
arrangements to prevent the huge dropout over a longer period, as well as the lack of
rates of mothers from the labour market. international comparison.
This part of the impact-monitoring project is
indicative of the fact that analysis at the
The voice of the family Broadly speaking there are two different governmental level is far too technocratic to
really understand how families function. but not mutually exclusive approaches to The research we undertook into the family
monitoring the impact of government microcosm as part of the monitoring project
actions on families. The first of these is revealed one striking point: Surveys are
'Family inflation rate'?
the scientific measurement of the impact perhaps the worst method for assessing what
goes on at the family level. They are a So far, we have focussed on the scientific on families of policies and actions
perfect instrument for straightforward process of charting and analysing the field measured over time. This approach is
questions (What political party did you vote of family policy, and on identifying the three being developed by the Family Impact
for?) but are unsuitable for charting such key aspects we need to know in order to Monitor under the direction of Peter
complex issues as family interactions and understand what is going on. From a Cuyvers of the Netherlands Family
decisions. Our example relates to one of the scientific point of view, this is very Council. The approach relies heavily on
most crucial family issues at present, namely satisfying. However, from the perspective of the systematic evaluation of government
the changing division of work between impact analysis, it is not enough. What we intentions regarding family policies, the
female and male partners. Supported by need is a structural feedback mechanism for policies themselves and the subsequent
grants from the Dutch government and the governments. This implies the availability of effect of the policies on families. The
EU, we set up a study on the effects of methods to continuously test family second approach focuses on an evalu­
family interaction (or rather partner development against a number of criteria. In ation of all government policies and
interaction) regarding decisions on family our model, we call this the trail of 'family actions, including those that do not fall
planning and the division of labour. In order indicators'. Essentially, family indicators within the realm of family policy, prior
to check the exact mechanisms, we did a have the same function as indicators in such to their implementation in terms of their
number of so-called 'confrontation other areas as economics. Based on the likely impact on families. This approach
interviews'. First, both partners completed agreement between scientists and politicians, is somewhat similar to environmental
the population survey. Then they took part there are a number of indicators, e.g. the
impact statements that are required
in an interview session with two gross national product, the inflation rate or
when making a planning application. It
interviewers (one female, one male) and exchange indexes like the Dow Jones or the
places an obligation on government
discussed the differences in their answers. Nikkei. At the macro level, such indicators
departments to prepare what are called
Our in-depth research on partner interaction are used to continuously measure the
'family impact statements' when drafting
processes showed that, in order to be success or failure of activities not only in the
new legislation or introducing new
effective with respect to such goals as an economy but also in a number of other
measures that are likely to impact
equal division of tasks (or even having more areas (e.g. education). It goes without saying
directly or indirectly on families.
children), government activities should not that a successful indicator cannot be
be directed at the family image often constructed in a couple of weeks or even
In Ireland, the Commission on the
portrayed in literature or invoked in political years but has to develop and prove its
Family in its Final Report to the
debates but rather at the real needs of practical value for all parties concerned.
Family Observer, No 2/2000 The family roller-coaster ride
It is followed by another new phase of n the impact studies carried out in the very effective in attracting political attention:
living together in couples whose children Netherlands, we were surprised to see the roller-coaster of modern life, entailing a
have left the parental home. For most how many parents were actually steep ride downhill for people plunging into
individuals, the latter phase stretches far complaining about the huge 'the parenthood dip'.
into pensionhood. Since the parenthood differences between their pre-
phase entails an increase in burden parenting phase and parenthood. Graph 1 represents the roller-coaster ride for I
(regarding both finances and time) as well n addition, a lot of older people were the years 1977 and 1996. It should be noted
as a decrease in opportunities, it is obvious extremely concerned about their grand­ that in almost all studies, the incomes of
that there is a difference in the living children growing up under increasingly families are relatively high as compared to
standards of parents versus non-parents. stressful conditions regarding the availability non-family households, such as singles.
The question is how big this difference is of time and money. One of the images we However, this is due to a number of differ­
and how it develops. chose to describe this problem proved to be ent factors. Most singles are students or
Family impact statements:
Minister for Social Community and the suggestion that policies should be central to policy-making" and that
measured against a number of key "Policies will be evaluated to monitor the Family Affairs in July 1998 recommended
effect on families of social policies". In a that both of these approaches to meas­ principles which underlie all family
uring the impact on families of policies policies. In an earlier chapter of the pre-election position paper (Irish Families
and programmes by the government Report these key principles are enun­ in the Millennium) the Fianna Fail party
ciated. If this suggestion were implemen­ which is the major party in the Coalition should be introduced. This dual approach
Government state that "The decision­is contained in the wording of the recom­ ted it would make explicit that part of the
mendation. It states "...the Commission family impact analysis which deals with making process must consider, from the
recommends the introduction of a Family values as expounded by the Family outset, the consequences policies will have
Impact Monitor. It would also establish a on the family". The position paper further Impact Statement which would set out
goes on to say: "Just as we propose that clearly the consequences of policies, pro­ set of criteria against which to measure
grammes and services for families in all the impact of policies on families. all policies be eco-audited, we also
major aspects of Government activity, propose that policies be family-audited".
This is a very explicit commitment to central and local." This part of the recom­ With regard to the impact statement part
family-policy auditing. mendation clearly falls within the realm of the proposals the Commission makes a
of monitoring policies after implemen­ very practical suggestion, that is, that the
tation. The second part of the statement would be included in the To date the recommendation on family-
policy auditing has not been implemented recommendation deals with the need for published explanatory memoranda which
or mechanisms put in place to enable family impact statements to be prepared accompany proposed new legislation.
before the implementation of new poli­ Doing this would require changing implementation. However, the Family
cies. It reads as follows: "As an initial Government rules which set out proce­ Affairs Unit which was set up by the
step, the Commission considers that the dures and instructions in relation to any Government to pursue the findings of the
Commission's Report are currently Family Impact Statement should be in­ proposals submitted for the consideration
considering the recommendation on cluded in all proposals put forward for of the Government. This change would
consideration by the Government and in allow the inclusion of the family impact family-policy auditing. Given the recent
the terms of reference for committees of statements. and indeed ongoing public debate about
the impact on families of new Govern­the House of the Oireachtas
ment labour policy initiatives and taxation (Parliament)". The present Coalition Government are
reforms it seems that the process of committed to introducing family auditing.
evaluating new policies in the context of In their joint programme for government While not spelling out in detail the mech­
their likely effect on families has already (An Action Programme for the Millen­anism required in order to implement the
begun. The need now is for this to be nium) they state that "The new family proposal the Commission makes some
carried out scientifically. important suggestions. Among these is focus... is designed to make families
Family Observer No 2/2000 jjiúihizifiiiz)
1: Lifécycle purchasing power in the Netherlands
Shifts in lifecycle-purchasing power, 1977 and 1996
Purchasing power corrected for inflation χ 1,000
0 2 4 7 9 11 14 16 19 21 23 26 28 31 33 37 40 44 47 50 55 58 61 64 68 71 76 80 82 85 88 91 93
1977 1996
Purchasing power corrected for inflation in the age bracket 0-100, 1977 and 1996
pensioners, i.e. groups concentrated at the most of them receive special family allow­ concerns the composition of the household.
beginning and at the end of the modern ances or benefits. The second correction Since it is clear that the per capita purchas­
lifecourse. In order to give an adequate
representation of the lifecourse develop­
ment, we charted the incomes of 'modus 2a: Purchasing power of
groups' by dividing the population into three
single-earner households in Belgium
main categories: singles, couples living
together without children, and families with
children. Since the modus groups differ
greatly regarding age (at ages 25 and 55, Purchasing power
more than 60 percent are couples; at ages 35 130
and 45, more than 70 percent are families),
it is obvious that the average lifecourse 120
entails two major moments of change. One
is characterised by the birth of the children; 110
the other by their leaving the parental
home. 100
90 Moreover, we did not use gross earnings but
rather so­called 'net purchasing power'. Net
1961 80 purchasing power differs from the gross
income of households in two ways. First, it
70 is corrected for the influence of all sorts of
government measures, ranging from the tax 12 3 3+
system to child allowances. As a conse­
Numberofchildren,Belgium (1961,1974, 1988)
quence, families get better ratings because
1 0 Family Observer, No 2/2000