Our forthcoming book The triple bind of single-parent families: resources, employment and policies to improve well-being (co-edited with Laurie C. Maldonado) is having an impact on public policy already. As part of the Peer Review on ‘Single mothers facing poverty: Providing adequate financial, material and social support for sustainable social integration’ (organised in Genk, Belgium, on 5th and 6th October), I was commissioned as independent expert to author a thematic paper based on the findings in our book. The thematic paper, my presentation, and many contributions from other national experts are now online.
Peer Reviews in social protection and social inclusion foster open discussion and mutual learning. Each Peer Review meeting is hosted by one country, in this case Belgium, which presents a selected good practice (e.g. a programme, policy reform, institutional arrangement). The practice in focus here was the < href="https://www.mi-is.be/nl/miriam">MIRIAM project (website in Dutch). Peer reviews are attended by experts from the European Commission, peer countries and relevant stakeholders who provide feedback.
The impact of the Triple Bind on the outcomes of this peer review is clearly visible in the key learnings messages, as formulated on the EU Commission’s website:
- Single parents disproportionally face a ‘triple bind’, including the combination of inadequate resources, inadequate employment and inadequate policies to secure well-being. However, although there are clearly challenges that are unique to single-parent families, much of their needs are common to other types of families as well. Thus, policies and institutions that support families with children and those in the labour force were also found to be of particular importance to prevent poverty faced by single parents.
- Measures targeting (poor) single parents result in the most effective poverty reduction as long as adequate levels of redistribution are ensured. Targeted (means-tested) benefits need to address the issue of inadequate take-up, and avoid stigma/shame around accessing benefits/support.
- Social inclusion of mothers beyond monetary support is essential, including employment and social connections. However, employment does not protect single mothers from poverty, as there are a number of risk factors related to precarious employment, low wages and less favourable employment conditions that may affect them. Thus, employment policies and policies that ensure work-life balance, are an inherent part of a desirable policy mix.
The book will be available early March this year, from Policy Press. Stay tuned for more exciting news soon!