1. Aims and scientific approach of project

We did pursue two major aims in developing the MZES/EURODATA Family Policy Database (as the third part of our project 'Family Change and Family Policies') :
1) Providing quantitative data and institutional information on family policies in European countries (database and information system)
2) Enabling comparative research on family policy (comparative analyses)

In order to achieve this goal, we did follow a macro-sociological approach in a historical and comparative perspective, focusing on institutions of family policy.

2. Scope and contents

The MZES/EURODATA Family Policy Database provides standardized comparative data, reinforced and enhanced by country-specific documentation and information. It centers on specific measures of family policy.

2.1 Countries and fields of family policy covered

The database covers specific family policies from their origins or from when data are available up to the present, with the emphasis on the period from the 1960s until the mid-1990s, in some cases up to 1998 or 1999. It principally includes all EU member-states (with the exception of Luxembourg) plus Norway and Poland. It primarily offers data and information on five fields of family policy:
1) Cash benefits for families in general
2) Cash benefits especially for lone parents
3) Existence minimum (family dimension)
4) Child-care services
5) Cash benefits and time-rights related to parenting and caring for children.

2.2 Time-series data on specific measures of family policy

The core of the database is quantitative time series provided in standardized form across all countries included, supplemented by country-specific data and institutional information if necessary and possible. The time series include data on beneficiaries, benefit rates, service supply (offer), expenditure, and receipts for each individual family policy measure at the lowest possible aggregation level. They cover family policies from their origins or from when data are available up to the present, focusing on the period from the 1960s until the mid-1990s. A table contains those 175 measures for which time-series data have been inserted into the database.

All data are documented and sources given for each variable. Terms used in other languages than English are translated into English. Data are provided in absolute numbers (basic units) and in case of financial data also in national currencies at current prices. In some cases, the database includes processed data, for example calculated national totals summing up a number of schemes or regions within a country.

Structure and contents of the time series are illustrated by four example datasets* covering fields 1), 2), 4) and 5) listed above. For this purpose we have chosen the child benefit (barnetrygd) in Norway, the single-parent allowance (allocation de parent isolé) for the general scheme (régime général) in France, kindergartens (Kindergarten) in Austria and the child-raising allowance (Erziehungsgeld) in Germany. For technical reasons the corresponding institutional regulations and classifications for the selected measures of family policy can not be integrated here.
* In the datasets ‘-1’ indicates, that a given variable is not applicable, ‘-2’ means, that the information is not/has not been available until now.

2.3 Institutional regulations and classifications

Information on institutional regulations and comparative classifications is available for most family policies for which time-series data have been established. Both kinds of information are provided in standard forms under MS ACCESS.

2.4 Indicators and analysis

Initially, we did intend to develop comparative family policy indicators as part of a system of family policy monitoring and reporting, too, and to integrate them into the database. This ambitious goal, however, could not be achieved, i.e. no indicators are contained in the database, nor does it include context data from areas like demography, social security, national accounts or labour market statistics. Additional data are therefore needed for cross-country comparisons.

3. Bibliography

3.1 Working paper: AB I / 27: Developing a family policy database for Europe (PDF-format). Mannheim, 1998.

3.2 Article: 'Aufbau einer komparativen Datenbank über Familienpolitik in Europa - ein Werkstattbericht' p. 233-258, in: Heinz-Herbert Noll/Peter Flora (Hrsg.): Sozialberichterstattung und Sozialstaatsbeobachtung. Individuelle Wohlfahrt und wohlfahrtsstaatliche Institutionen im Spiegel empirischer Analysen. Frankfurt a.M./New York: Campus, 1998.

3.3 Short overview: EURODATA Newsletter No. 6: Research Groups & Projects: The Mannheim International Family Policy Project: The Family Policy Database. Mannheim, 1998.

3.4 As to publications building on the MZES/EURODATA Family Policy Database please refer to the list of publications on the homepage of the framework project 'Family Change and Family Policy in Comparative Perspective'.

4. Access and usage

Since February 2001, the database'Maucher, Mathias/Bahle Thomas (Ed.): Family Policy Database. Mannheim: MZES, 2000' - is accessible and distributed on CD-ROM.

4.1 Browser-based version and version under MS ACCESS

On this CD-ROM, the database has been made available in two versions. The browser-based version is limited to documented time-series data. Each country data set is introduced by a short description of major country parameters. The lists of technical terms and data sources for each country can be displayed or downloaded. The MS ACCESS version, in addition, provides information on institutional regulations and comparative classifications of family policy measures. They are available for most family policies for which time-series data are established. The changes over time can be listed in a report, documenting each legal amendment or change of a programme property. Moreover, the full version offers additional selection procedures, also possible in combination, and allows for a variable search.

4.2 Ordering the CD-ROM

The 'MZES Database on Family Policies in European Countries' can be ordered for a small user fee of 25 € (shipping included) for which an invoice will be made out. Please send your request to the following address:

Österreichisches Institut für Familienforschung (ÖIF)
z.Hd. Sonja Doerfler
Gonzagagasse 19/8
A - 1010 Wien

or mail to the co-ordination team manager of the European Observatory on Family Matters.

4.3 Transfer and update

By mid February 2001, the 'MZES/EURODATA Family Policy Database' was transferred to the Austrian Institute for Family Studies (ÖIF) in Vienna, which until 2004 has been conferred the responsibility to coordinate the 'European Observatory on Family Matters'. The database will be updated and possibly extended to other fields. Further, it is planned to implement an online access to at least parts of the database within the next months.

4.4 User support

Questions with regard to concept and contents can be directed to the co-ordination team manager of the European Observatory on Family Matters at the Austrian Institute for Family Stduies (ÖIF). Users, however, are asked for their consideration if not every single question can be answered without delay.

5. Project teams

5.1 Project team in Mannheim

Dr. Thomas Bahle (executive project coordinator; B, D, DK, E, NL); Mathias Maucher (database manager; A, F, FIN, N, P, PL, S). Until mid 1999, Katherina Fuduli (scientific employee; GB, GR, I) and Beatrix Holzer (scientific employee; D, GB, IRL) did participate in establishing the database.

5.2 Project team in Warsaw

All data and information on Poland was produced by our Polish project partners in Warsaw. The team consisted of Dorota Glogosz, Bozena Kolaczek, and Piotr Kurowski of the Institute of Labour and Social Affairs (IPiSS), supported by Stanislawa Golinowska, who had initiated the inclusion of Poland into the Family Policy Database.

Last update: 28/02/2001 MM

Family Policy Database
  Project teams