The unequal benefits of activation: an analysis of the social distribution of family policy among families with young children

Joris Ghysels*, Wim Van Lancker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the last few decades, measures to reconcile work and family life have risen in mutual interaction with a rising rate of dual earnership. However, dual earnership has (to date) been adopted in a socially uneven way in most european societies. Therefore, one may wonder whether the activation measures have brought about a loss of vertical redistribution in welfare states. We address this question by focusing on the interaction of three measures of family policy and their overall distributional effect in europe, with the belgian region of flanders as the case in point. We develop a fine-grained analysis to reveal the budgetary impact of the variation in use and generosity, and find that today in flanders the redistributive effect of child benefits is largely undone by subsidized childcare and parental leave benefits. If parents’ employment is to be generalized, this case study suggests that more attention is required regarding the universal use of reconciliation measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-485
JournalJournal of European Social Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • activation
  • child benefits
  • childcare
  • dual earnership
  • redistribution
  • parental leave

Cite this