The Family in a New Social Contract
The paper examines the evolution of the family in both conceptual and empirical terms, as well as family support policies, in Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It argues that family support is a central element of a transition to a new social contract in these countries. It uses the systematic analysis of parental leave policies, childcare services, and family allowances and child benefits to understand the nature of the emerging welfare model in the three cases more deeply. While within social and family policy debate, considerable attention has been paid to advanced welfare states and increasingly to countries in the Global South, the new independent states of the former Soviet Union have remained relatively neglected. This study thus aims to fill a gap in this research and policy area. The paper is further framed within a broader consideration of trends in development of families and family support policies globally and over time. Based on the analysis of family support policies and their impact on families, the study suggests that family support policies in these countries could focus on ameliorating the access and quality of social services for children and the elderly, creating family-friendly employment opportunities with equal amount of paid maternity and paternity leaves, eradicating poverty through increasing incomes and social payments, and enhancing gender equality through reducing unpaid care work and promoting shared responsibility within the family. This all can help generate better future returns in terms of economic growth, human capital development and social cohesion.