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No need to reinvent the wheel: family policy transfers in Germany and Austria

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Family policies have recently been raised high on the political agendas for action in many welfare states and have constituted a major reform area. This is especially the case in Germany and in Austria, where the literature has identified surprisingly far-reaching reforms, particularly in the fields of parental leave and childcare services. This article addresses the observation that there has not only been an intensive exchange between these two countries in their family policy reform processes, additionally, there has been a growing interest in ‘learning from abroad’ in general, with the Nordic countries often serving as examples. Partly, this is connected to an increased activity of the European Union in the field, particularly through soft law methods like the open method of coordination (OMC). This article asks to what extent family policy reforms in Germany and Austria were influenced by vertical and horizontal policy transfers. Presenting findings from comparative case studies of reforms in parental leave and childcare (2000–2010), the article shows which reforms were influenced by policy transfers (and which were not), which objects were transferred and to what extent. It argues that family policy reforms in Germany and in Austria cannot be fully understood without taking cross-national policy transfers into account.
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Keywords: Austria; Germany; case study research; family policy; policy transfer; welfare states

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Austrian Institute for Family Studies, University of Vienna, Grillparzerstra├če 7/9, Vienna, 1010, Austria

Publication date: July 4, 2014

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