Discussion Paper no. 03-01


This paper starts with a synthesis of changes in families, work (paid and unpaid), reproduction, and the situation of children and youth. Alternate models of family policy are then elaborated, along with a discussion of policies in given domains associated with earning and caring, the division of labour, children and lone parents. Taking seriously the interest to arrive at a model that would increase the overlap in the earning and caring activities of men and women, the paper ends with a suggestion based on shared parental leave and part-time work, followed by the early entry of children to nursery schools and kindergartens. For low income families, it is important to increase the child tax benefit, and for lone parents, joint custody and advance maintenance payments. These provisions would help establish parents as co-providers and co-parents. State support for child benefits, for other basic social benefits, for parental leaves and education as of age three, would undermine gender differences in families, and consequently in the broader society. In particular, this would undermine the potential for exploitation of one spouse by another, based on inequality in their earning capacities that are generated by their family responsibilities.