Social Indicators Research

, Volume 142, Issue 1, pp 387–409 | Cite as

Family Policy Index: A Tool for Policy Makers to Increase the Effectiveness of Family Policies

  • Begoña Elizalde-San MiguelEmail author
  • Vicente Díaz Gandasegui
  • Maria T. Sanz García


This paper presents the Family Policy Index (XFPI), an analytical tool designed to measure and compare different models of countries’ provision of educational services, parental leave and economic transfers to support families with children aged 0–3 years. The objective of this index is twofold: from a scientific perspective, it aims at measuring and comparing the overall support families receive through public policies; it also serves advocacy purposes, since the index may offer guidance to policy makers on best practices and may also increase citizens’ awareness of the efforts each country is making to support families. The XFPI has been conceptualized following a gender equality principle, considering that policies must involve both mothers and fathers in the exercise of their equal responsibility as parents. The XFPI was measured for two countries, Spain and Norway, in the 1999–2014 period, to test its applicability to different real scenarios and models of Welfare State with different policies and intentions, in which responsibility for childcare falls on two different agents: the State in Norway, and the family in Spain. The results show the extremely low development of Spanish pre-educational services for children 0–3 and, simultaneously, the existing limitations of Norwegian family policies in respect of gender equality. The index has the capacity to provide robust results applicable in different countries and to project into the future the potential scenarios that countries may face when designing new policies.


Family policies Spain Norway Childcare Gender equality 



Research for this article was carried out as part of the project “EDPs no lineales y aplicaciones”, financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, MTM2014-57113-P.


  1. Barcelona European Council. (2002). Presidency conclusions. Available at:
  2. Brandth, B., & Kvande, E. (2009). Gendered or gender-neutral care politics for fathers? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 624(1), 177–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brandth, B., & Kvande, E. (2016). Masculinity and fathering alone during parental leave. Men and Masculinities. Scholar
  4. Campillo Poza, C. (2010). Políticas de conciliación de la vida laboral y familiar en los regímenes de bienestar mediterráneos: los casos de Italia y España. Política y sociedad, 47(1), 189.Google Scholar
  5. Castro García, C., & Pazos Morán, M. (2016). Parental leave policy and gender equality in Europe. Journal of Feminist Economics, 22(3), 51–73. Scholar
  6. Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labour: modeling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(4), 1208–1333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Díaz Gandasegui, V., Díaz-Gorfinkiel, M., & Elizalde-San Miguel, B. (2017). Caring for children under three years in two different models of welfare states: The cases of Spain and Norway. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 48(2), 157–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Elizalde-San Miguel, B., Díaz Gandasegui, V., & Díaz Gorfinkiel, M. (2015). Crisis y Estado de Bienestar en el cuidado de menores: reflexiones conceptuales a partir de un estudio comparado de España y Noruega. Revista de Economía Crítica, 20(7), 120–134.Google Scholar
  9. Ellingsaeter, A. L. (2012). Cash for childcare: Experiences from Finland, Norway and Sweden. International Policy Analysis.Google Scholar
  10. Eydal, G. B., & Rostgaard, T. (2011). Day care schemes and cash for care at home. In Norden (Ed.) Parental leave, childcare and gender equality in the Nordic Countries.
  11. Eurostat. (2016). Labour force survey. Available at:
  12. Fernandez-Crehuet, J. M., Gimenez-Nadal, J. I., & Recio, L. E. R. (2016). The National Work-Life Balance Index©: The European case. Social Indicators Research, 128(1), 341–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ferragina, E., & Seeleib-Kaider, M. (2015). Determinants of a Silent (R)evolution: understanding the expansion of family policy in rich OECD countries. Social Politics, 22(1), 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gauthier, A. (2002). Family policies in industrialized countries. Is there a convergence? Population (English Edition), 3, 447–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Glass, J., Simon, R. W., & Andersson, M. A. (2016). Parenthood and happiness: Effects of work-family reconciliation policies in 22 countries. American Journal of Sociology, 122(3), 886–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gornick, J., & Meyers, M. (2003). Families that work: Policies for reconciling parenthood and employment. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Gornick, J. C., & Meyers, M. K. (2008). Creating gender egalitarian societies: An agenda for reform. Politics and Society, 36(3), 313–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greco, S., Ishizaka, Al, Tasiou, M., & Torrisi, G. (2017). On the methodological framework of composite indices: A review of the issues of weighting, aggregation, and robustness. Social Indicators Research. Scholar
  19. Kamerman, S., & Kahn, A. J. (1994). Family policy and the under threes: Money, services and time in a policy package. International Social Security Review, 47(3–4), 31–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kitterød, R. H., & Rønsen, M. (2013). Opting out? Who are the housewives in contemporary Norway? European Sociological Review, 29(6), 1266–1279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuronen, M., Kröger, T., Antón-Alonso, F., Cucca, R., Escobedo, A., Jensen, P. H., et al. (2015). The relationships between local and national childcare policies—A comparison of Nordic and Southern European Cities. Social Indicators Research Series, 59, 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kvande, E., & Brandth, B. (2017). Individualized, non-transferable parental leave for European fathers: Migrant perspectives. Community, Work and Family, 20(1), 19–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lamb, M. (2000). The history of research on father involvement. Marriage and Family Review, 29(2–3), 23–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lappegård, T. (2012). Couples’ parental leave practices: The role of the workplace situation. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 33(3), 298–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leira, A. (2002). Working parents and the welfare state. Family change and policy reform in Scandinavia. Cambridge: University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Leira, A. (2006). Parenthood change and policy reform in Scandinavia, 1970s–2000s. In A. L. Ellingsæter & A. Leira (Eds.), Politicising parenthood in Scandinavia gender relations in welfare states (pp. 27–52). Bristol: Policy Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Leitner, S. (2003). Varieties of familism: The caring function of the family in comparative perspective. European Societies, 5(4), 353–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. León, M., & Pavolini, E. (2014). Social investment or back to ‘Familism’: The impact of the economic crisis on family and care policies in Italy and Spain. South European Society and Politics, 19(3), 353–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marsiglio, W., & Roy, K. (2012). Nurturing Dads: Social initiatives for contemporary fatherhood. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  30. Meil, G. (1995). La política familiar española durante el franquismo. Revista Internacional de Sociología, 11, 47–87.Google Scholar
  31. Meil, G., & Rogero-García, J. (2014). Abuelas, abuelos y padres varones en el cuidado de la infancia. Cuadernos de Relaciones Laborales, 32(1), 49–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Moreno, A. (2013). La protección familiar en España: un reto aplazado. Presupuesto y Gasto Público, 71, 223–239.Google Scholar
  33. Moreno Fuentes, F. J., Marí-Klose, P., Gago, A., Daatland, S., Barth, E., & Leira, A. (2015). New social risks and welfare state reforms in Norway and Spain. Working paper, Gigapp.Google Scholar
  34. Navarro, V., & Clua Losada, M. (2013). El impacto de la crisis en las familias y en la infancia. Barcelona: Ariel.Google Scholar
  35. Nielsen, A. (2012). Work, life course and gender. European Societies, 14(1), 113–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. OECD. (2008). Handbook on constructing composite indicators. Methodology and user guide. OECD.
  37. Plantenga, J., & Remery, C. (2009). The provision of childcare services: A comparative review of 30 European countries. European Commission’s Expert Group on Gender and Employment Issues. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  38. Rønsen, M., & Kitterød, R. H. (2015). Gender-equalizing family policies and mothers’ entry into paid work: Recent evidence from Norway. Feminist Economics, 21(1), 59–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rostgaard, T. (2014). Family policies in Scandinavia. London: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.Google Scholar
  40. Ruppanner, L. (2013). Conflict between work and family: An investigation of four policy measures. Social Indicators Research, 110(1), 327–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sanz, M. T., Caselles, A., Micó, J. C., & Soler, D. (2016a). Including an environmental quality index in a demographic model. International Journal of Global Warming, 9(3), 362–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sanz, M. T., Caselles, A, Micó, J. C., & Soler, D. (2016b). Development of the Happiness Index in a country. In Systems & design beyong process and thinking. Electronic book proceedings (pp. 807-818). Valencia: Universitat Politécnica de Valencia.Google Scholar
  43. Schadler, C., Rieder, I., Schmidt, E. M., Zartler, U., & Richter, R. (2017). Key practices of equality within long parental leaves. Journal of European Social Policy, 27(3), 247–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Soss, J., & Schram, S. F. (2007). A public transformed? Welfare reform as policy feedback. American Political Science Review, 101(1), 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thévenon, O. (2011). Family policies in OECD countries: A comparative analysis. Population and Development Review, 37(1), 57–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thévenon, O., & Gauthier, A. H. (2011). Family policies in developed countries: A “fertility-booster” with side-effects. Community, Work and Family, 14(2), 197–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tobío, C. (2012). Reciprocity and solidarity in intergenerational relationships: France, Norway and Spain in comparative perspective. Papers, 97(4), 849–873.Google Scholar
  48. Tobío, C., & Fernandez, J. A. (2005). Conciliar las responsabilidades familiares y laborales: políticas y prácticas sociales (V.2). Madrid: Fundación Alternativas.Google Scholar
  49. Vuori, J. (2009). Men’s choices and masculine duties. Fathers in expert discussions. Men and Masculinities, 12(1), 45–72. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Departamento de Análisis SocialGetafeSpain
  2. 2.Universitat de Valencia, Departamento Didáctica de la Matemática. Facultat de MagisteriValenciaSpain

Personalised recommendations