FI Fairness in Families Index places UK near bottom of league table

2 December 2010

Fairness in Families Index reportFirst ever international Fairness in Families Index places UK 18 out of 21 countries

The UK ranks in the bottom 4 in a groundbreaking new ‘Fairness in Families’ index showing countries’ ability to support equal parenting, launched by the Fatherhood Institute today.

UK families get a raw deal on paid paternity leave, time spent caring for children and men and women’s pay, the Fairness in Families Index reveals. Despite Coalition Government claims to make Britain the ‘most family-friendly country in Europe’, the Index proves the UK “still has a long way to go”, says Rob Williams, Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute.

The Index is the first of its kind, drawing on OECD data and validated by an international advisory panel. It ranks 21 countries on a set of 10 ‘family fairness’ indicators, including parental leave, the ratio of men’s to women’s time spent caring for children, the proportion of women in management roles, the percentage of men in the part-time workforce and the amount of time spent by men and women doing unpaid domestic work.

Despite the UK fairing well on indicators including per capita spend on childcare, taken together across all 10 indicators, the UK comes a lowly 18th out of 21 countries, with only Japan, Austria and Switzerland being less ‘family-friendly.’

Rob Williams, Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute, said:

“The Fairness in Families Index gives a benchmark for where Britain stands in terms of how far policies allow families to share parenting and be more ‘equal’. Parents’ choices are restricted by an outdated distinction between fathers as breadwinners and mothers as home-makers. There is clearly a long way to go if we are to become ‘the most family-friendly country in Europe’ as the Coalition has pledged.”

The Fairness in Families Index reveals:

  • In Finland [ranked 1], men spend 52.8 minutes caring for education their children for every hour spent by women.  In the UK [ranked 12], men spend 32.4 minutes for every hour spent by women
  • In Sweden [ranked 1], men get a maximum of 40 weeks full-time equivalent paid leave for men following the birth of a child. In the UK [ranked 15], it is 2 days
  • 37.7% of the part-time workforce in Denmark  [ranked 1] is male, as opposed to 24.2% in the UK [ranked 13]
  • The difference between median earnings of men and women is 21% in the UK [ranked 15].  In Belgium, which tops the rankings for this indicator, the gap is 9.3%

Rob Williams said:
We need to establish a better framework in the UK to support equal earning and caring.  Numerous studies have shown that the old concepts of man as breadwinner and woman as home-maker are not what young couples aspire to – and that being pigeonholed into such roles damages couple relationships.  Much more needs to be done to make families fairer – and getting the paternity leave system right is a good place to start.”

Click here to download Fatherhood Institute Report: Fairness in Families Index 2010



One Comment »

  • Bruno Ditri says:

    Thank you for this very insightful article.
    It lays bare the outdated presumption, still prevalent in Britain, that fathers are financial providers and mothers are child rearers.
    This attitude is also very fixed in the mentality of our judiciary. Following divorce, fathers are excluded from their children’s lives.
    The principles of Shared Parenting are not only important to apply during a marriage, but also following divorce.

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