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Continuity and change in Swedish family policy reforms

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This paper examines whether and to what extent three recently implemented family policies in Sweden change incentives regarding employment and choice of childcare for parents of young children, and whether these incentives differ by income level. These policy innovations warrant close examination because they represent a decisive ideological shift from what was a coherent set of policies that created incentives for high levels of female employment and that has been identified as a model of best practice in Europe. Simulating the economic incentive effects of the three new policies for heterosexual couple families with different levels of income, we find that while family policy in Sweden continues to provide the strongest support for a model of gender equality that combines full-time dual earning with public childcare, alternative organizations of family life are now more affordable. Nonetheless, the extent to which the costs of deviation from this model have changed varies by income level.

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