the family in norwegian society n.
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The family in Norwegian society

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  1. The family in Norwegian society Anne Skevik Grødem, NOVA – Norwegian Social Research

  2. What is “a family”? • Blood relations, • Legal relations (marriage) • A set of functions • Production • Reproduction • Distinguish between family and household • Household: People who live in the same house, and who regularly have meals together

  3. Married women with children under 16 in the labour force, 1972-1999

  4. What is ”the family?” • A contested political question! • ”Haven in a heartless world” • A site of oppression and conflicting interests • The basic unit of society • A changing institution

  5. Family trends in Norway • Delayed marriages • Delayed childbearing  extended youth period, singledom, cohabitation • Stable, comparatively high fertility • High and stable rates of extra-marital birth • High and stable divorce rates  many lone parents, many non-resident parents, many adults living alone

  6. Cohabitation • A ”paper-less” marriage or a modern form of engagement? • Illegal in Norway until 1972! • Much less stable than marriage

  7. Marriage in Norway • Anyone who is over 18 and single is free to marry • Illegal to marry parents/ grandparents/ children/ grandchildren, and siblings • Only valid if it is freely entered into

  8. % who are cohabiting, married or living alone, different age groups, 2002-2004

  9. % of women in different age groups cohabiting, various years

  10. % of women aged 25-29 who are married or cohabiting, various years

  11. Mean age at first marriage, men and women, 1961-2003

  12. % of marriages between previously unmarried and previously married, early 1960s and 2003

  13. Homosexual marriage • “Registered partnerships” introduced in 1993 • Same-sex couples can register their partnerships. This gives them all the same rights and duties as married couples have, except • They cannot be married in a church ceremony • They cannot adopt children together, or legally be inseminated by a sperm donor

  14. Numbers of registered partnerships, 1993-2003

  15. Divorce • Either party can apply for a formal separation • After one year of formal separation (or two years of informal separation), either partner can apply for divorce • The parties do not have to agree, nor do they have to give a reason for divorcing

  16. Divorce Divorcing couples who have joint children under 16 are obliged to undergo counselling. The aim of this counselling is not to save the marriage, but to ensure that the parents have reached a workable agreement about arrangements for children. This counselling is also mandatory for cohabiting couples with joint children.

  17. The divorce rate, 1959-2005

  18. Divorce rates in selected European countries and the USA, ca. 2002

  19. To sum up: • Family patterns are much more unstable than they were only a generation ago • People marry later. Cohabitation is the most common way of living together among young couples. • The divorce rate has increased considerably • More people are living alone • Divorced men and women frequently marry new partners – they do not lose faith in marriage!

  20. Child-bearing • Fertility rates have fallen, but are still higher in the Nordic countries than in most other European countries • Many children are born to cohabiting parents • Many children are living with lone parents, mainly lone mothers

  21. Fertility rates: Norway, and the reproduction level

  22. Fertility rates: Norway, and the reproduction level

  23. European fertility rates (selected countries)

  24. Mean age at first birth

  25. Mean age at first birth

  26. % of live births outside marriage

  27. Children at different ages, by parents’ marital status. 2006

  28. Children in different family forms, 2005

  29. Non-resident fathers’ contact with their children

  30. The family and the welfare state • Division of labour • Increased demand for work/ family reconciliation policies • Increased demand for social care services (child-care, care for the elderly) • ”Child-centred social investment strategy” and policies to combat child poverty

  31. Main elements of present Norwegian family policies • Universal child benefit • Parental leave • 44 weeks with full wage replacement or 54 weeks with 80% wage replacement (up to a ceiling) • 9 weeks are reserved for the mother, 6 weeks reserved for the father • Benefits for lone parents • Child-care services • Cash-for-childcare • Care services for the elderly

  32. Proportions and numbers of fathers taking parental leave, Norway, 1991-2006

  33. Proportions and numbers of fathers taking parental leave, Norway, 1991-2006

  34. The division of labour between families and welfare states • Crowding out? • Crowding in? • No influence? • Division of work?

  35. “Can’t each and every person, also in Norway, take on some responsibility for their parents who have given birth to them and raised them? This idea is seen as primitive and anti-freedom in present-day Norway. And it does not match the individualistic and selfish direction Norwegians in some ways have moved, there the only emphasis is on self-actualisation and the fulfilment of one’s own needs”. Attiq Ahmad Sohail, medical student, Aftenposten 18th April 2008)

  36. “It is well documented that Norwegian family members take a high degree of responsibility for their elderly and disabled, and this activity is not declining, quite the opposite…. Sohail also claims that the idea of caring for elderly parents “is seen as primitive and anti-freedom in present-day Norway”. Where did he get that idea? The claim is entirely unsubstantiated, the opposite is well documented. Moreover, his claim is an insult to all those who spend enormous time and energy in the best interest of frail elderly parents – year after year. … It is disappointing, even frightening, to read such nonsense from a University student”. Tor Inge Romøren, professor in ageing research, NOVA, Aftenposten 22th April 2008

  37. Forms of help to the frail elderly, different countries

  38. Quotes from Norwegian respondents (source: Daatland and Herlofson 2004) • “Society has the main responsibility, but the family can step up with other forms of help”. (son of a frail elderly parent) • “The family must be there and provide support, but not as an obligation or a job. The main responsibility should be on the public and on professionals”. (daughter of a frail elderly parent) • “You should not expect care and nursing from your children, but of course that they should support you, come to visit and so on”. (frail elderly Norwegian mother)

  39. To sum up: • Norwegian fertility rates are below replacement level, but above the European average. People have children later in life. • Increasing proportions of children are living with only one of their biological parents, usually the mother, but • Almost all these children have some contact with their fathers, and the majority have frequent and regular contact. • The welfare state is an active partner for Norwegian families • Still, there is a lot of informal support – both in cash and in kind – between young adults and their parents, and between frail elderly parents and their children/ grandchildren