André Anwar, Stockholm
Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, 4/4/2007
Germany wants more day nursery places. Sweden however wants to pay parents
who stay at home with their children. Why does Sweden now introduce
a child-care allowance?
For decades, Sweden has been seen as a model of social democratic family
politics. But now, the conservative four-party government under
minister Reinfeldt is trying a variant: Swedish parents will be paid
state if they stay at home with their kids. Mothers – or fathers
don't want to return to work after the birth of a child, will get €320 ($440) a month until the child is three years old.
In this way, parents will have real freedom of choice, says Göran Hägglund,
the Christian Democrat 'Health and Social Affairs minister' who has drawn
the concept of a child-care allowance. There is hardly another
where so many women are working, and therefore hardly any other country
has such a demand for day care places.
There exists however a movement in Sweden in favour of the stay-at-home
mom, the full-time parent. The Stockholm suburb of Solna is a centre for
this movement. Five years ago, Madeleine Lidman started "Hemmaföräldrar",
the "Network for full-time parents". Its members see the
stay-at-home role as a privilege. In no way, though, this will be a return to old
patriarchal structures; rather it should give more freedom, they argue.
Madeleine Lidman has got 40,000 signatures on a list in favour of financial state
support for stay-at-home moms and dads, who take care of their children themselves. For this, Madeleine Lidman has support not only from
conservatives but also from people on the left.
Still there are many critical voices speaking out against the proposal.
They fear that with support for stay-at-home moms, the equality idea will
undermined, even though day-nursery care is considerably more expensive
than the €320 ($440) that parents would be paid for taking care of their
child at home. The result would simply be a reduction of the total amount
budgeted for childcare, the opposition fears.
Feminists also fear a "trap". After all, it would be
mostly women who
stayed at home with the children, they say. In Sweden too, women
earn less than men on average. And this situation would be more pronounced, if
a child-care allowance were introduced. Besides, the allowance would
attractive only for married women with highly paid men. €320 a
month cannot compensate for the loss of an entire wage.
The "Liberal People's Party" in the government also has had some
against parts of the proposal. The final agreement is said to have
that an introduction of a child-care allowance would be accompanied by an
increase in the number of day-care places.
and longer maternatity leave: A triumph for feminism? Anything but!
Hallengren comments on daycare hazzards article in SvD
children lack protection