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Between Instrument Tinkering and Policy Re-newal: Reforms of Parental Leave in Germany and Austria

GPS, Vol. 6 No. 3, (2010)

Both German and Austrian family policies, while traditionally being strong-ly familialistic, have in recent years been subject to ongoing restructuring. This article studies the reforms of parental leave policies, which have been conducted during the first decade of the new millennium in Germany (2001 and 2007) and Austria (2000, 2002, 2008 and 2010). It finds that while the introduction of the income-related parental benefit has implemented a sys-tem shift within the German scheme, the numerous Austrian reforms have introduced quite far-reaching, but always additional elements to the existing scheme—leading to a kind of „muddled modernization‟. Discussing possible explanations for this differing reform outputs, the article identifies the avail-ability of new ideas and the entrance of new actors as decisive and applies this as an analytical lens in studying the reform processes in both countries.

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