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Changing Family Structures: Gender, Work, Inequality, and Poverty

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A Teaching Topic in Socioeconomic and Political Context

Changing Family Structures: Gender, Work, Inequality, and Poverty

This topic deals with the evolution of the family within a given society. It examines changes in family structure and the implication for policymaking. Discussions within this topic include the gendered welfare state, work and family life, and family demographic trends. This topic considers how inequality, poverty, immigration, education, labour markets, and other factors influence and are influenced by changes in family structure (Toronto PPG 1005H). In particular, the male-female pay gap is an area of evolving understanding and substantial debate.

Topic Learning Outcome: Students will gain an enhanced understanding of how family structures in advanced economies have been changing in recent decades, and the implications for public policy development.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Social Capital

Recommended Readings

Toronto PPG 1005H The Social Context of Policy-Making

Esping-Andersen, Gosta (2009) Chapter 3 “Adapting Family Policy to the Female Revolution” The Incomplete Revolution, pp. 45-110

Rosin, Hanna (2010) The End of Men, July/August 2010 Atlantic Magazine.

Slaughter, Anne-Marie (2012) Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, July/August 2012 Atlantic Magazine.

Edin, Kathryn and Laura Lein. (1997) Chapter 4 “Making Ends Meet at a Low-Wage Job” in Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. pp. 88-119.

Burton, Peter and Shelley Phipps (2011) “Families, Time, and Well-Being in Canada” Canadian Public Policy 37(3): 395-423.

Pulkingham, Jane and Seth Klein. (2008) “Living on Welfare in BC: Experiences of Longer-Term “Expected to Work” Recipients. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Meg Luxton (2011) Changing Families, New Understandings, Vanier Institute of the Family: Ottawa.

Baker, Michael and Marie Drolet (2010) “A New View of the Male/Female Pay Gap” Canadian Public Policy 36(4): 429-464.

Esping-Andersen, Gosta. (2009) The Incomplete Revolution: Adapting to Women’s New Roles. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Gilbert, Neil. (2008) A Mother’s Work: How Feminism, the Market and Policy Shape Family Life New Haven: Yale University Press.

“Women and Poverty, 3rd Edition,” (2007) Canadian Research Institute on the Advancement of Women (CRIAW),

Smeeding, Timothy M., et al. (2011) “Young Disadvantaged Men: Fathers, Families, Poverty, and Policy” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 635 (1): 6-21.

 Sample Assessment Questions:

1.) What is the gender pay gap? In a short one-page paper, identify the major competing explanations for the persistence of a gender wage gap.

2.) Canada's population is aging. Discuss the implications of this demographic shift for any specific area of public policy in Canada, discussing the challenges (or opportunities) presented by an aging population and some of the policy options available to respond to them. 

Page created by Sean Goertzen and Ben Eisen on 13 March 2015.


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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance