Shared care, in which children of separated parents live roughly equal amounts of time with each parent, has been increasing in many countries. It is also becoming a more popular arrangement across different social demographic groups. Little is known whether or not the economic outcomes for children and parents are different when shared care is chosen over single parent care, and whether these outcomes are similar across welfare states.
– Our new research project will provide substantial new information about the post-separation economic trajectories of parents with new child living arrangements and will help to develop policies that support financial well-being of families practicing shared care, Academy Research Fellow Mia Hakovirta explains.
The idea of shared care is that in parental separation, children’s relationships with both parents continue, replacing the non-substitutability of the mother as primary carer. This is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulating that children have a right to both parents, if it is the best interest of the child.
Most prior research on post separation economic wellbeing of parents and children has focused on families in which children live with the mother. Determining the economic impact of shared care and shifting of costs between parents has been a ‘black box’ in literature.
This project takes a comparative approach and investigates the economic consequences of shared care in various welfare state contexts. We combine individual level theories to explain how individuals use and share resources that are at their disposal, and macro level theories to explore how the institutional context moderates the economic consequences of shared care, something that has not been investigated yet.
First, using unique parental surveys from Finland, Germany, and the US, we study how parents share the cost of children in shared care families. Second, employing the EU-SILC survey from 28 European countries and taking a distributional perspective, we explore the economic consequences of shared care for mothers, fathers, and children in different welfare states.
This research contributes to knowledge of how welfare states treat new models of post separation families, and how existing family policies moderate the economic well-being of parents and children in modern welfare societies.
The research is funded by the Academy of Finland