Political Science ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation emphasizes the comparative aspect of family policy, with a regional focus on post-communist Europe. Following the turmoil of transition, many social welfare programs were transformed and often scaled back. Family policies, however, were largely carried through the initial period of transformation, despite the economic difficulties and the dramatic decline in birth rates in a course of several years. This study was inspired by the seeming contradiction between falling birth rates and increasing generosity of family policy provisions across the former communist European countries. This dissertation uses original data, which includes levels of benefit provision as well as national political and economic characteristics, and views on immigration from 1990 to 2010. Contemporary scholarship emphasizes the gender equality aspect of family policies while understating the political and policy implications of the states goal of maintaining stable populations. I address this shortcoming by assessing the interconnectedness of the family policies and fertility rates and by acknowledging the current rise of xenophobia that stems from the increasing transparency of borders. I utilize both quantitative and qualitative methodology to support my argument. Chapters 2 and 3 of the study present the time-series cross-sectional analysis of the demographic, socio-economic, political, and policy influences on fertility rates and family policies, respectively, in fourteen countries. Chapter 4 is a case-study of Russia, which hosts the largest share of immigrants in Europe and provides generous family benefits. My central argument — and finding — is that anti-immigrant sentiment is an important consideration for family policy considerations. I find that xenophobia is a meaningful predictor of family policy generosity in the CEE, especially in the countries where the proportion of foreign-born population exceeds five percent. I also find that party politics matters for the generosity of family policies. Despite conventional expectations, I find that Right parties have been more instrumental in increasing family policies in the CEE. I argue that family policies fit well within the conservative party policies of the traditional male breadwinner family model, which has replaced the former communist paradigm of full labor participation among men and women.

Degree Name

Political Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Political Science

First Committee Member (Chair)

Hansen, Wendy

Second Committee Member

McFarlane, Deborah R.

Third Committee Member

Wood, Richard L.




family policy, xenophobia, Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, post-communism

Document Type