FAMILY POLICY IN AUSTRIA: A LESSON FOR POLAND
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The article presents contemporary family policy in Austria in the context of unfavourable demographic changes, such as the decreasing number of births and the increasing instability of marriage. The extended system of family benefits and the regulations on maternity and parental leaves, being advantageous to parents, make Austria one of the most family-friendly countries in Europe. However, until the 1990s, the Austrian government supported maternal care for children and women's withdrawal from the labour market by giving priority to the provision of cost compensation of women's economic inactivity. That policy turned out to be unadjusted to both labour market requirements and social preferences.Since the mid 1990s, several new family policy measures were implemented, aimed at promoting part-time jobs for mothers, or the use of maternal and parental leaves by both parents. However, underdevelopment of institutional care for children, as well as lack of flexible work patterns, make it still difficult, to reconcile work and family in Austria. Austrian experts proved, that the prolonged parental leave had only a temporary impact on fertility. Therefore, financial transfers, which compensate direct costs of children, should be supplemented by measures aimed at improving general conditions to make them more favorable for decisions about having children, like supporting employment of parents, especially employment of young mothers, developing child care services and family-friendly institutions, in general.
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