Fiscal policies and social transfer measures hold the potential to improve the compatibility of paid work and family commitments. But cantonal authorities do not sufficiently consider the available knowledge. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the National Research Programme “Gender Equality” (NRP 60).
Gender equality is affected by policies in many areas, one of which is fiscal policy. Switzerland's federal system makes it difficult to fully understand the impacts of fiscal policy and social transfer mechanisms, such as social benefits, health insurance support payments and child-care subsidies on single parents or couples with children.
The regulations vary from one canton to the other. Generally, there are financial disadvantages for couples who share paid work. This is problematic both in terms of gender equality and economic policy. Coordinated fiscal policies and social transfer mechanisms hold the potential of improving the compatibility of family and paid work as well as boosting gender equality in the job market and the family.
Limited awareness of latest results
In the context of the National Research Programme "Gender Equality" (NRP 60), researchers from the University of Lucerne and the consulting firm Interface undertook a novel analysis: they wanted to know how information gained by research impacts on legislative processes in the areas of fiscal policy and social transfer mechanisms.
After analysing 60 policy changes between 2008 and 2011 and conducting structured interviews with cantonal experts, they evaluated to what degree the latest scientific insights were considered by the authorities formulating new regulations. They focused on legislative processes which influence gender equality in the sense of improving the balance of paid work and family life.
The researchers discovered that the cantonal authorities made an assessment of the impact of each policy change, although only half of these assessments focused on questions relevant to gender equality. Reports by external experts were commissioned only in 7 out of the 60 legislative processes.
In 44 cases, colleagues from other cantonal authorities were consulted. Political scientist Andreas Balthasar has identified two laws which exemplify how information relevant to gender equality can be taken into account: the law on family-support institutions in the Canton of Fribourg and the revised fiscal law in the Canton of Uri (both 2011).
Reaching out to politics
Interestingly, about half of the offices responsible for the legislative process indicated that they were aware of studies relevant to gender equality. But there is little sign that the arguments of these studies came to bear on the legislative process. On the basis of this, the researchers have concluded that scientists need to make their results more transparent and offer information geared specifically to policymakers.
In addition, they recommend that the administrative authorities participate more strongly in the legislative process, i.e. that they get involved in finding solutions and not only execute political decisions. It would also make sense if cantonal gender equality experts were consulted more frequently on legislative processes. Balthasar believes that there are approximately twenty opportunities per year to address gender equality issues at cantonal level.
The researchers have compiled a brochure of 30 relevant studies on the subject. It is available in German and French.
Hard copies can be ordered from the Department of Political Science of the University of Lucerne: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof Andreas Balthasar
Department of Political Science
University of Lucerne
+41 41 226 04 26
The study results and the text of this press release can be found on the website of NRP 60 (www.nfp.60 > Projects > Cluster 3 > Balthasar) as well as on the website of the Swiss National Science Foundation (http://www.snsf.ch > Research in Focus > Media > Press releases).
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Just add water? New MRI technique shows what drinking water does to your appetite, stomach and brain
12.07.2016 | Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
Massive open-access database on human cultures created
11.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte / Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.
Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...
Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases
Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...
Scaffolding and specialised workers help with the delivery – Heidelberg biochemists gain new insights into biogenesis
A type of scaffolding on which specialised workers ply their trade helps in the manufacturing process of the two subunits from which the ribosome – the protein...
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have developed a new mass spectrometry imaging method which, for the first time, makes it possible to analyze hundreds of metabolites in fixed tissue samples. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Protocols, explain the new access to metabolic information, which will offer previously unexploited potential for tissue-based research and molecular diagnostics.
In biomedical research, working with tissue samples is indispensable because it permits insights into the biological reality of patients, for example, in...
Chemists at the University of Basel have succeeded in using computer simulations to elucidate transient structures in proteins. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, the researchers set out how computer simulations of details at the atomic level can be used to understand proteins’ modes of action.
Using computational chemistry, it is possible to characterize the motion of individual atoms of a molecule. Today, the latest simulation techniques allow...
15.07.2016 | Event News
15.07.2016 | Event News
11.07.2016 | Event News
22.07.2016 | Information Technology
22.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
22.07.2016 | Life Sciences