Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications

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    A comparison of family policy designs of Australia and Norway using microsimulation models
    KALB, G ; Thoresen, T (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2010)
    Many of the Australian family support schemes are income-tested transfers, targeted towards the lower end of the income distribution, whereas the Norwegian approach is to provide subsidized non-parental care services and universal family payments. We contrast these two types of policies and discuss policy changes within these policy types by presenting results from simulations, using microsimulation models developed for Australia and Norway. Labor supply effects and distributional effects are discussed for the hypothetical policy changes of replacing the means-tested family payments of Australia by the Norwegian universal child benefit schedule and vice versa, and of reducing the childcare fees in both countries. The analysis highlights that the case for policy changes is restricted by the economic environment and the role of family policy in the two countries. Whereas there is considerable potential for increased labor supply of Australian mothers, it may have detrimental distributional effects and is likely to be costly. In Norway, mothers already have high labor supply and any adverse distributional effects of further labor supply incentives occur in an economy with low initial income dispersion. However, expenditure on family support is already high and the question is whether this should be further extended. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.