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The politics of parental leave policiesChildren, parenting, gender and the labour market$
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Sheila Kamerman and Peter Moss

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420671

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420671.001.0001

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Portugal and Spain: two pathways in Southern Europe

Portugal and Spain: two pathways in Southern Europe

(p.207) Thirteen Portugal and Spain: two pathways in Southern Europe
The politics of parental leave policies

Karin Wall

Anna Escobedo

Policy Press

Welfare state and family policy in Southern Europe has been much researched and analysed, however there has been no systematic effort to look, in an historical context, at the evolution of policies and the paths taken by the countries. As in other European countries, Spain and Portugal have moved away from the policies focusing on the ‘traditional’ male breadwinner model. However, the reconciliation of family policies and leave policies has not necessarily shifted at the same pace in both countries or in the same direction. This chapter compares the particular routes taken by parental leave policies in Spain and Portugal since their transitions to democracy. To understand the politics of leave policies in these countries, these three main lines are considered: firstly, the main aims, policy measures, and turning points in leave policies since the 1960s; secondly, the actors, constraints, or political processes that sustained or influenced these policies; and thirdly, the linkages between leave policy and major shifts in other related policies. Aside from discussing parental leave, the chapter also tackles the connections of leave policy to the development of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services and to other gender, family, and employment policies and practices. In addition, the chapter compares the current leave policy models in the two countries and discusses their differences and commonalities. In a comparative European perspective, the main challenge in this chapter is to see to what extent parental leave policies in Portugal and Spain are diverging or moving in the direction of the ‘early return’ model.

Keywords:   welfare state, family policy, Southern Europe, Spain, Portugal, male breadwinner, employment policies, parental leave

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