DP116 | Impacts of Policy Actions on the Family and Household


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This paper discusses the impacts of a range of economic and social policies on family and household formation and dissolution, with particular reference to Great Britain. While this focus was suggested by the author's familiarity with developments in the United Kingdom, it also represents a particularly interesting case since there have been many important policy changes there in the past fifteen years which have affected marriage, fertility, divorce and household formation. During the 1970s, equal pay policies altered the timing of marriage and fertility, and they may have affected the likelihood of divorce. Reform of the law concerning divorce accelerated the upward trend in divorce, and monetary and fiscal policies designed to reduce inflation have also increased unemployment. Lower inflation and higher unemployment have tended to alter the timing of childbearing and the likelihood of divorce. Housing policies have continued to influence the timing of marriage and childbearing and the patterns of household formation by "marginal" groups such as the young and the elderly. Attempts have been made to measure these impacts, but much more research is necessary in order to properly assess the impact of government policy in a range of areas on patterns of family and household formation and dissolution.