OECD urges Spain to grant a universal child benefit

In the last decade, the family model has been transformed in Spain. They are getting smaller and less traditional: the number of children with unmarried parents has tripled and almost equals those with parents who have legalized their union. But nevertheless, not everyone has the same rights, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which proposes measures such as a benefit universal per child or extend paid paternity and maternity leave.

In its White Paper on family protection, the body that brings together the most developed countries asks to update social measures so that they cover all types of families and also guarantee a minimum protection throughout the Spanish territory, among a total of 40 proposals. “Changes in policy have not met changes in society, a new legal framework could better represent the diversity of families”, explained Stefano Scarpetta, the director of Employment, Labor and Social Affairs of the OECD, during the presentation of the report this Thursday in Madrid.

The assessment and recommendations will serve as the basis for the family diversity law prepared by the Ministry of Social Rights to legally recognize the different models of families, since the only national legal framework in force in this matter is the 2003 Law on the protection of large families.

At the presentation of the report, the holder of this portfolio, Ione Belarra, has picked up the glove and explained that she is working so that the new law includes some of the measures proposed by the OECD, such as a universal “child-rearing income”, the extension of “equal and non-transferable” paternity and maternity leave to six months. It has also announced a 100% paid care leave per person of at least seven days a year, to care for children, the partner and the elderly.

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This document “puts words to a deficit that Spain has dragged when it comes to supporting their families”, said Belarra, who has claimed the family law will be one of the “fundamental” ones in this legislature, and hopes that it can be approved in “the next few months”.

Smaller families and more unmarried parents

If in the second half of the 20th century Spain had one of the highest fertility rates in Europe, it now has the lowest rate in the region, at 1.3 in 2018, compared to the EU average of 1.5.

The legalization of divorce and the social acceptance of non-marital cohabitation have formed a more diverse family composition, in which the births of children of married parents have decreased and minors living in single-parent or reconstituted families have increased, shows this extensive analysis of 198 pages.

For example, him 47% of children in Spain have unmarried parents, three times more than 10 years ago (was 18%). However, these changes in family models have not been reflected in the evolution of the laws in Spain, warns the OECD.

The rights and financial protection of children whose parents are not legally married differ from those whose parents are marriedwarns this international body. To overcome these situations, it proposes approving measures aimed at these new types of families, such as those aimed at protecting these homes in the event of the death of unmarried parents.

Paid leave to delay return to work

In Spain, Employed mothers have increased by more than 50% in the last two decades. That makes the dual-earner family model the dominant one, although women continue to have more caregiving responsibilities and unpaid housework. However, the OECD appreciates signs of changes in these patterns with the greater availability of paternity leave and the extension of shared custody.

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For this body, although family law has evolved considerably, family policy has not done it, that is, the combination of benefits, services, tax exemptions and permits that help family members raise and care for minor children and other dependents. In this area, policies such as the approval of paid parental leave that ensure the care of children would help.

40% of single parent families live in poverty

The OECD diagnosis highlights the high level of child poverty, with a rate in Spain of 19.3%, compared to the average of 12.9% in developed countries, and the low level of social spending on family and childhood -1, 3% of GDP, compared to 2.3% in the EU-27-. Almost one in five children live in relative poverty, which he attributes to a high rate of unemployed families and insufficient public transfers.

According to the report, it urges special protection for single-parent and single-parent families. 40% live in poverty in Spain (in the OECD it is 32% and 27% among European OECD countries). Improving the rates and quality of employment for parents, increasing social spending aimed at low-income families, adjustments to the child support system in the event of divorce, and integrated family services with fewer barriers to access, are some of its recommendations.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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