Plenary abstracts

Monday 9 September 3.30pm

Family Policy in the UK and Europe: Does it Respond to Fertility and Ageing?

Professor Mary Daly
Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford

This presentation offers an analysis of social policy development and change from the perspective of fertility and ageing. With the main focus on recent family policies in the UK, it first undertakes an overview analysis of the thrust and direction of policy change. Family policy will be conceived in a relatively broad way - among the policy areas that will be considered are child-related policies, parenting, elder care and general reforms like Universal Credit. The intent is to interrogate the driving motivations, philosophies and modalities as well as the incentives involved for particular kinds of behaviours on the part of mothers, fathers and other family members. The second part of the presentation enquires into the kind of demographic and family order that is implied by the policy changes and prevailing philosophies or discourses of relevant reform (principally: social investment and work-family balance). The conceptual framework used leans towards the sociological and institutional, investigating the implications of policy and discourse in terms of family relations, the generational contract, gender and other forms of inequality, and care. Throughout, the presentation problematises the linkages between social policy and demographic/family structures and behaviours.

Tuesday 10 September 3.30pm

Demography, Gender & Kinship Systems: perspectives from Asia

Professor Monica Das Gupta
The World Bank

Kinship systems differ in patterns of residence and inheritance that have many ramifications for gender and demographic outcomes, some of which are illustrated here with data from Asia. Within patrilineal kinship systems alone, there is a great deal of variation that shape the rights of different categories of household members, and patterns of cooperation between them. In the most rigidly patrilineal systems, adult women are largely excluded from their parental home, and start with low autonomy in their husband’s home. This affects women’s and children’s health, and encourages a strong preference for sons. At the same time, these rigid systems offer some social protection. The evidence shows that kinship systems are persistent but not immutable: they can be altered by state intervention, and by the exigencies of urban industrial life.