Analytical Family Demography

“In tAnalytical family demographyhis book new mathematical and statistical techniques that permit more sophisticated analysis are refined and applied to questions of current concern in order to understand the forces that are driving the recent dramatic changes in family patterns. The areas examined include the impact of the evolving Second Demographic Transition, where complex patterns of gender dynamics and social change are re-orienting family life.  New analyses of marriage, cohabitation, union dynamics, and union dissolution provide a fresh look at the changing family life cycle, emerging patterns of partner choice, and the impact of union dissolution on the life course.  The demography of kinship is explored, and the importance of parity progression to the generation of the kinship web is highlighted.  The methodology of population projections by family status is examined, and new results presented that demonstrate how recognizing family status advances long term policy objectives, especially with regard to children and the elderly.  This book applies up-to-date methods to examine the demography of the family, and will be of value to sociologists, demographers, and all those who are interested in the family.”

 

Editor: Robert Schoen – Population Research Institute, Penn State University, University Park, USA.

Available on: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-93227-9#toc 

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World family map

El proyecto de World Family Map monitorea 16 indicadores de la estructura familiar,
los procesos familiares y la cultura familiar en múltiples países alrededor del mundo. Cada informe anual del proyecto comparte los últimos datos sobre estos indicadores, así como un ensayo original centrado en un aspecto de la vida familiar contemporánea. Investigadores de todo el mundo sirven como asesores y analistas para el proyecto, estimulando una gran comunidad de investigadores para recopilar nuevos datos y llevar a cabo estudios innovadores sobre las familias y los niños.

América Latina respalda a Francisco, pero se divide en la doctrina

En el gran vivero del catolicismo se observan notables diferencias por países en cuanto a su visión de la Iglesia, según una encuesta elaborada entre 12.000 fieles de todo el mundo

El Papa, el pasado año en la JMJ de Río de Janerio. / GETTY

La Iglesia Católica no eligió porque sí a un Papa latinoamericano. Esa región acoge al 42% de sus más de mil millones de fieles aunque también es la más amenazada por la pujanza de los cultos evangélicos. Y la repuesta de los fieles del continente, como los de casi todo el mundo, ha sido entusiasta ante el nuevo pontífice: a casi todos los católicos de Argentina (el 97%) le parece muy buena o buena su labor, y también a una mayoría amplísima de brasileños (el 91%). Sin embargo, en América se encuentra, paradójicamente, el país donde más recelo despierta el nuevo Papa. En México hasta un 26% considera mediocres o pobres sus logros hasta el momento.

Ese contraste es muy importante: de la gran encuesta de Bendixen&Armandi para la cadena Univisión entre más de 12.000 católicos de todo el mundo (el 39% de ellos latinoamericanos) se deduce que no hay una única Iglesia. Los fieles africanos (los países escogidos para la muestra fueron República Democrática del Congo y Uganda) y asiáticos (las entrevistas se hicieron en Filipinas) resultaron ser más conservadores en cuestión de doctrina que los latinoamericanos (encuestados en México, Brasil, Argentina y Colombia). Y estos, a su vez, resultaron ser más conservadores que los europeos en temas como el aborto o la posibilidad de que los sacerdotes puedan casarse; pero más abiertos a aceptar los matrimonios homosexuales que países como Italia o Polonia. Los datos son una avanzadilla de los que pueden resultar del sondeo enviado el pasado noviembre por el pontífice a los católicos de todo el mundo para conocer el sentir de los parroquianos sobre estas cuestiones.

Pero si no hay una sola iglesia tampoco hay una única América Latina. El continente se halla, por ejemplo, muy dividido en cuanto a la aceptación de los matrimonios homosexuales. Mientras en Colombia –el país más conservador de los analizados en la región- el 71% de los católicos se opone a ellos, en México el porcentaje baja al 62% y en Argentina y Brasil se da casi un empate técnico entre partidarios y detractores. Más distantes están los fieles del continente de la doctrina oficial del Vaticano en la cuestión del aborto. En el país que vio nacer a Jorge Mario Bergoglio, el 81% de los argentinos se manifiesta a favor, mientras que el 18% cree que no se debería permitir en ningún supuesto. Colombia es, de los cuatro Estados sondeados, en el que la aceptación en algunos o todos los casos es menor (61%).

Pero más allá de las opiniones sobre el aborto o el matrimonio homosexual, regulados por las legislaciones nacionales, el estudio apunta el deseo de una renovación interna de la Iglesia entre los feligreses. Casi el 70% de los católicos en América Latina no está de acuerdo con que se le niegue la comunión a un divorciado que se haya vuelto a casar. Un porcentaje a mitad de camino entre Europa (75%) y Norteamérica (60%). En cambio son minoría en el continente (44%) los que verían con buenos ojos un cura casado, nueve puntos por debajo del promedio mundial. En cuanto a la posibilidad de que una mujer oficie misa, hay división total: 49%, sí; 47%, no. En estas dos últimas preguntas, en Estados Unidos y los países europeos en los que se ha realizado el sondeo hay mayor predisposición a que los curas puedan casarse y las mujeres ser sacerdotes.

México, el país menos entusiasta con el Papa

México no comparte de una forma tan unánime el enorme entusiasmo que ha generado en los católicos de todo el mundo el nuevo Papa. Según la encuesta hasta un 26% de los católicos mexicanos tiene una opinión mediocre o mala de la labor desempeñada por Francisco, un porcentaje desmesurado si se compara con el 1% de italianos y polacos que recelan del nuevo pontífice o el 6% de los brasileños, el segundo país más crítico.

La encuesta no pregunta por los motivos de ese pequeño pero sensible rechazo y deja ese terreno abierto a la especulación. Tal vez se deba a los casos de pederastia que afectaron de una forma significativa al país norteamericano, cuna de los Legionarios de Cristo, una de los grupos religiosos más señalados por los escándalos. O, al contrario, a que la extraordinaria imagen de Juan Pablo II no admite comparación posible entre muchos católicos del país, que lo veneran como a una de las grandes figuras de la historia.

Los católicos mexicanos se muestran abiertos en temas como permitir la comunión a divorciados que vivan con una nueva pareja (lo admiten dos de cada tres); el aborto, aceptado en algunos o todos los casos por el 72%; o sobre todo, el uso de anticonceptivos, admitido por una abrumadora mayoría del 88%.

En cambio, el 65% se muestra contrario a permitir el matrimonio para los sacerdotes. El rechazo es mayoritario en todas las franjas de edad y alcanza el 73% entre los de más de 55 años. Tampoco quieren los católicos mexicanos que las mujeres puedan acceder al sacerdocio: el 63% lo rechaza. Pero es significativo que la medida si sea aceptable por un estrecho 50%-48% para aquellos católicos que frecuentan menos la iglesia.

Por último, el 62% se opone al matrimonio gay, opción que admite el 36%, aunque entre los más jóvenes, de 18 a 34 años, ganan por poco los partidarios (50% frente a 47%).

Empate técnico en Argentina sobre el matrimonio gay

Los católicos argentinos están prácticamente divididos en dos mitades, entre quienes apoyan y quienes rechazan el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo. El 48% de los encuestados estaría en contra y el 46% a favor, lo cual es un empate técnico considerando el 3% de margen de error que tiene el sondeo.

La edad marca, en todo caso, grandes diferencias de opinión. Casi el 60% de los jóvenes, entre 18 y 34 años, son partidarios de permitirlo, frente al 66% que se opone entre los mayores de 55.

En el resto de cuestiones, se sitúan en contra de la doctrina oficial de la Iglesia, según la encuesta. El 73% es partidario de que los divorciados con nueva pareja puedan recibir la comunión; el 79% admite el aborto en algunos o todos los casos; el 92% admite el uso de anticonceptivos; el 65% está a favor de permitir que los curas se casen; y el 60% que las mujeres ejerzan el sacerdocio.

El Papa Francisco sí es profeta en su tierra, aunque hay que decir que lo es en todas las tierras encuestadas. El 97% de sus compatriotas tiene una imagen buena o excelente de su labor, frente al 2% que la califica de mala o mediocre.

Los católicos brasileños, abiertos en cuestión de doctrina

Los católicos brasileños se muestran entre los más abiertos del continente en cuestión de doctrina, con resultados muy similares a los recabados en Argentina, según se deduce de la encuesta. Su postura contrasta así con la de los pujantes movimientos evangélicos, que son los que abanderan en el país la oposición a iniciativas como la legalización del aborto o el matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo.

El 71% permitiría que los divorciados que vivan “en pecado” pudieran recibir la comunión. El 81% admite el aborto en todos o algunos supuestos. Y un abrumador 94% está a favor del uso de anticonceptivos.

También ganan los partidarios de eliminar el celibato sacerdotal (60% frente a 37%) y quienes aceptan el sacerdocio femenino (54% frente a 45%).

El asunto más disputado entre los católicos brasileños es la cuestión del matrimonio gay, al que se opone el 48% de los católicos, frente al 45%. El apoyo a las bodas entre personas del mismo sexo es similar al de Argentina y solo inferior al de España o Estados Unidos entre los países encuestados. En todo caso, un porcentaje más amplio, el 64%, se opone a que la Iglesia celebre este tipo de enlaces.

La labor del Papa Francisco está siendo buena o excelente para el 91% de los brasileños, frente a un 6% de personas que la valoran como mediocre o mala.

Colombia, conservadores dentro del continente 

Los católicos colombianos son los que más se oponen al matrimonio gay de los encuestados en el continente. El 71% de los sondeados se opone a esta medida y el rechazo es general en todos los grupos de edad, desde el 59% de los jóvenes, al abrumador 81% de los mayores.

Los colombianos también se oponen a la ordenación de mujeres, aunque por un estrecho margen, del 48% frente al 47%. En cambio, son partidarios del matrimonio de sacerdotes, con el 54% de apoyos frente al 42% de rechazo.

El 60% es partidario de permitir la comunión a divorciados y un porcentaje igual aprueba el aborto en algunos o todos los casos. Pero donde la respuesta es abrumadora, como en el resto de países del continente, es en el asunto de los anticonceptivos: el 91% está a favor de su uso y solo el 7% en contra.

Fuente: El País

Retratos de família

Após quinze anos de pesquisa, a fotógrafa Fifi Tong clicou filhos e netos de imigrantes africanos, europeus, asiáticos, que hoje formam famílias brasileiras anônimas e conhecidas, como a família de Constanza Pascolatto.

Tong reuniu 50 retratos de famílias de etnias e níveis sociais e regiões diferentes, para a edição do livro Origem – Retratos de Família no Brasil. Lançamento dia 29 de agosto, no Memorial do Imigrante, em São Paulo.

Conhecida no meio publicitário como uma das grandes retratistas do país, Fifi Tong, descendente de imigrantes chineses, conta: tudo começou com o meu retrato em família, revendo vestidos chineses que eram de minha avó e minha mãe. Minha avó estava envelhecendo, achei que era uma oportunidade. Eram as gerações. Um retrato sem pretensão. Quando vi as fotos reveladas percebi que poderia ser um projeto significativo.

Num trecho do livro, Fifi comenta: eu posso falar que meus pais se adaptaram muito rápido – quarenta e quatro anos depois de partirem da China regressaram para sua cidade natal, Xangai. Os dois viram as casas onde passaram a infância transformadas em fábricas. Sentiram-se estrangeiros. Que força é essa que envolve, enlaça e transforma estrangeiros em brasileiros? Todas essas questões surgiram à medida que ia fazendo as fotos de famílias, muitas delas, como a minha, vindas de longe.

Formada com o título de BFA em fotografia pelo Art Center College of Design da Califórnia, Tong começou sua carreira de trabalho em Los Angeles, depois em Milão, em São Paulo, onde fotografou para grandes agências, DPZ e W/Brasil. Desde 1992 mantém estúdio próprio. Entre suas especialidades, os ensaios de moda, publicidade, catálogos e portraits.

O livro é editado pela Auana, de propriedade da jornalista Ana Augusta Rocha, que já dirigiu a Terra Virgem Editora, em parceria com o fotógrafo Roberto Linsker. Origem – Retratos de Família reúne 134 páginas e custa R$ 60.

Fonte: Margarita Sem Censura

Marriage promotion: That’s some fine print

In a (paywalled) article in the journal Family Relations, Alan Hawkins, Paul Amato, and Andrea Kinghorn, attempt to show that $600 million in marriage promotion money (taken from the welfare program!) has had beneficial effects at the population level. A couple quick comments on the article (see alsoprevious posts on marriage promotion).

After a literature review that is a model of selective and skewed reading of previous research (worth reading just for that), they use state marriage promotion funding levels* in a year- and state-fixed effects model to predict the percentage of the population that is married, divorced, children living with two parents, one parent, nonmarital births, poverty and near-poverty, each in separate models with no control variables, for the years 2000-2010 using the American Community Survey.

To find beneficial effects — no easy task, apparently — they first arbitrarily divided the years into two periods. Here is the rationale for that:

We hypothesized that any HMI [Healthy Marriage Initiative] effects were weaker (or nonexistent) early in the decade (when funding levels were uniformly low) and stronger in the second half of the decade (when funding levels were at their peak).

This doesn’t make sense to me. If funding levels were low and there was no effect in the early period, and then funding levels rose and effects emerged in the later period, then the model for all years should show that funding had an effect. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this passes the smell test.

Then they report their beneficial effects, which are significant if you allow them p<.10 as a cutoff, which is kosher under house rules because they had directional hypotheses.

However, then they admit their effects are only significant because they included Washington, DC. That city had per capita funding levels about 9-times the mean (“about $22″ versus “about $2.50″), and had an improving family well-being profile during the period (how much of an outlier DC is on the dependent variables they didn’t discuss, and I don’t have time to show it now, but I reckon it’s pretty extreme, too). To deal with this extreme outlier, they first cut the independent variable in half for DC, bringing it down to about 4.4-times the mean and a third higher then the next most-extreme state, Oklahoma (itself pretty extreme). That change alone cut the number of significant effects down from six to three.

coupdegrace

Then, in the tragic coup de grâce of their own paper, they remove DC from the analysis, and nothing is left. They don’t quite see it that way, however:

But with the District of Columbia excluded from the data (right panel of Table 3), all of the results were reduced to nonsignificance. Once again, most of the regression coefficients in this final analysis were comparable to those in Table 2 (right panel) in direction and magnitude, but they were rendered nonsignificant by a further increase in the size of the standard errors.

Really. What is “comparable in direction and magnitude” mean, exactly? I give you (for free!) the two tables. First, the full model:

tab2

Then, the models with DC rescaled or removed (they’re talking about the comparison between the right-hand panel in both tables):

tab3

Some of the coefficients actually grew in the direction they want with DC gone. But two moved drastically away from the direction of their preferred outcome: the two-parent coefficient is 44% smaller, the poor/near-poor coefficient fell 78%.

Some outlier! As they helpfully explain, “The lack of significance can be explained by the larger standard errors.” In the first adjustment, rescaling DC, all the standard errors at least doubled. And all of the standard errors are at least three-times larger with DC gone. I’m not a medical doctor, but I think it’s fair to say that when removing one case triples your standard errors, your regression model is not feeling well.

One other comment on DC. Any outlier that extreme is a serious problem for regression analysis, obviously. But there is a substantive issue here as well. They feebly attempt to turn the DC results in their favor, by talking about is unique conditions. But what they don’t do is consider the implications of DC’s unique change over this time for their analysis. And that’s what matters in a year- and state-fixed effects model. How did DC change independently of marriage promotion funds? Most importantly, 8% of the population during 2006-2010 was new to town each year. That’s four-times the national average of in-migration in that period. This churning is of course a problem for their analysis, which is trying to measure cumulative effects of program spending in that place — hard to do when so many people moved there after the spending occurred. But it’s also not random churning: the DC population went from 57% Black to 52% Black in just five years. DC is changing, and it’s not because of marriage promotion programs.

Finally, their own attempt at a self-serving conclusion is the most damning:

Despite the limitations, the current study is the most extensive and rigorous investigation to date of the implications of government-supported HMIs for family change at the population level.

Ouch. Oh well. Anyway, please keep giving the programs money, and us money for studying them**:

In sum, the evidence from a variety of studies with different approaches targeting different populations suggests a potential for positive demographic change resulting from funding of [Marriage and Relationship Education] programs, but considerable uncertainty still remains. Given this uncertainty, more research is needed to determine whether these programs are accomplishing their goals and worthy of continued support.

*The link to their data source is broken. They say they got other data by calling around.

**The lead author, Alan Hawkins, has received about $120,000 in funding from various marriage promotion sources.

Source: Family Inequality

Para brasileiros, Igreja Católica deve aceitar que padres se casem

Pesquisa aponta que 80% da população é a favor de um novo casamento religioso para divorciados
SHUTTERSTOCK
​80% dos brasileiros são a favor de que divorciados se casem religiosamente de novo
​Quase sete em cada dez brasileiros (65%) são a favor de que a Igreja Católica passe a aceitar que padres possam se casar e constituir família. É o que mostra uma pesquisa do IBOPE Inteligência/CNT (Confederação Nacional dos Transportes) para a revista Época.

Ainda segundo o estudo, a população se divide com o fato de que mulheres exerçam o papel de padres: 48% são contra e 46%, a favor. Por outro lado, a maioria (74%) é contra a ideia de que a Igreja Católica aceite padres homossexuais/gays e 64% são contra a possibilidade de pessoas que não fizeram seminário celebrar missas.

O estudo também mostra que para 60% dos brasileiros, atualmente, o maior problema da Igreja Católica são os casos de pedofilia, seguidos da corrupção (16%) e do distanciamento da realidade dos fieis (8%).

Quando questionados se um pessoa fere os preceitos de sua religião, independente de qual seja, se fizer aborto, 69% dos entrevistados respondem que sim e 27%, que não. Já para o uso de pílula anticoncepcional ou camisinha, o resultado inverte: a maioria (73%) não considera que os preceitos de uma religião são feridos ao utilizar esses métodos contraceptivos, assim como 61% dizem que sexo antes do casamento não fere os princípios de uma religião. Mas, a população fica dividida quando o tema é homossexualidade: para 45%, ser  homossexual é ferir os preceitos de uma religião, enquanto 49% discordam.

A pesquisa também perguntou se um líder religioso deve ser acusado pelo crime de homofobia se pregar contra homossexuais: grande parte (60%) declara que sim e 55% também acham que o tema homossexualidade deve ser incluído no currículo das aulas de educação sexual.

Casamento – Oito em cada dez brasileiros (80%) são a favor de que divorciados se casem religiosamente de novo, 76% são favoráveis à ideia de que instituições religiosas celebrem matrimônios entre casais que já tiveram relação sexual e 62% apoiam a celebração religiosa de casamentos entre casais que não praticam a religião na qual vão se casar. Por outro lado, 61% são contra a possibilidade das instituições religiosas realizarem a união entre pessoas do mesmo sexo.

Francisco – Depois da escolha do novo papa, a confiança de 37% dos brasileiros na Igreja Católica aumentou, enquanto apenas 4% dizem que diminuiu. No entanto, para a maioria da população (59%), a confiança permaneceu a mesma.

Dos 2.002 entrevistados entre os dias 5 e 9 de dezembro de 2013, em 141 municípios, 61% são católicos, 24% evangélicos e 4% de outras religiões. Mais da metade  (59%) declara ser praticante. Os que não tem religião somam 10%.  A margem de erro é de erro é de dois pontos percentuais para mais ou para menos.

Fonte: Ibope

Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes

By Helena Lee

Baby asleep in one of the maternity boxes

For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.

The maternity package – a gift from the government – is available to all expectant mothers.

It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.

With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls.

Mother and daughters look at a pack from 1947
A 1947 maternity pack

Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more.

The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.

“Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy,” says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

So the box provided mothers with what they needed to look after their baby, but it also helped steer pregnant women into the arms of the doctors and nurses of Finland’s nascent welfare state.

In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high – 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed.

Mika Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, gives several reasons for this – the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed in the 60s by a national health insurance system and the central hospital network.

 

Contents of the box

Contents of the 2013 pack
  • Mattress, mattress cover, undersheet, duvet cover, blanket, sleeping bag/quilt
  • Box itself doubles as a crib
  • Snowsuit, hat, insulated mittens and booties
  • Light hooded suit and knitted overalls
  • Socks and mittens, knitted hat and balaclava
  • Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings in unisex colours and patterns
  • Hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, bath thermometer, nappy cream, wash cloth
  • Cloth nappy set and muslin squares
  • Picture book and teething toy
  • Bra pads, condoms

At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women.

Reija Klemetti, a 49-year-old from Helsinki, remembers going to the post office to collect a box for one of her six children.

“It was lovely and exciting to get it and somehow the first promise to the baby,” she says. “My mum, friends and relatives were all eager to see what kind of things were inside and what colours they’d chosen for that year.”

Her mother-in-law, aged 78, relied heavily on the box when she had the first of her four children in the 60s. At that point she had little idea what she would need, but it was all provided.

More recently, Klemetti’s daughter Solja, aged 23, shared the sense of excitement that her mother had once experienced, when she took possession of the “first substantial thing” prior to the baby itself. She now has two young children.

“It’s easy to know what year babies were born in, because the clothing in the box changes a little every year. It’s nice to compare and think, ‘Ah that kid was born in the same year as mine’,” says Titta Vayrynen, a 35-year-old mother with two young boys.

For some families, the contents of the box would be unaffordable if they were not free of charge, though for Vayrynen, it was more a question of saving time than money.

She was working long hours when pregnant with her first child, and was glad to be spared the effort of comparing prices and going out shopping.

“There was a recent report saying that Finnish mums are the happiest in the world, and the box was one thing that came to my mind. We are very well taken care of, even now when some public services have been cut down a little,” she says.

When she had her second boy, Ilmari, Vayrynen opted for the cash grant instead of the box and just re-used the clothes worn by her first, Aarni.

A boy can pass on clothes to a girl too, and vice versa, because the colours are deliberately gender-neutral.

Infant mortality in Finland

The contents of the box have changed a good deal over the years, reflecting changing times.

During the 30s and 40s, it contained fabric because mothers were accustomed to making the baby’s clothes.

But during World War II, flannel and plain-weave cotton were needed by the Defence Ministry, so some of the material was replaced by paper bed sheets and swaddling cloth.

The 50s saw an increase in the number of ready-made clothes, and in the 60s and 70s these began to be made from new stretchy fabrics.

In 1968 a sleeping bag appeared, and the following year disposable nappies featured for the first time.

Not for long. At the turn of the century, the cloth nappies were back in and the disposable variety were out, having fallen out of favour on environmental grounds.

Encouraging good parenting has been part of the maternity box policy all along.

“Babies used to sleep in the same bed as their parents and it was recommended that they stop,” says Panu Pulma, professor in Finnish and Nordic History at the University of Helsinki. “Including the box as a bed meant people started to let their babies sleep separately from them.”

At a certain point, baby bottles and dummies were removed to promote breastfeeding.

“One of the main goals of the whole system was to get women to breastfeed more,” Pulma says. And, he adds, “It’s happened.”

He also thinks including a picture book has had a positive effect, encouraging children to handle books, and, one day, to read.

And in addition to all this, Pulma says, the box is a symbol. A symbol of the idea of equality, and of the importance of children.


The story of the maternity pack

Pack from 1953
  • 1938: Finnish Maternity Grants Act introduced – two-thirds of women giving birth that year eligible for cash grant, maternity pack or mixture of the two
  • Pack could be used as a cot as poorest homes didn’t always have a clean place for baby to sleep
  • 1940s: Despite wartime shortages, scheme continued as many Finns lost homes in bombings and evacuations
  • 1942-6: Paper replaced fabric for items such as swaddling wraps and mother’s bedsheet
  • 1949: Income testing removed, pack offered to all mothers in Finland – if they had prenatal health checks (1953 pack pictured above)
  • 1957: Fabrics and sewing materials completely replaced with ready-made garments
  • 1969: Disposable nappies added to the pack
  • 1970s: With more women in work, easy-to-wash stretch cotton and colourful patterns replace white non-stretch garments
  • 2006: Cloth nappies reintroduced, bottle left out to encourage breastfeeding

Additional reporting by Mark Bosworth.

Box anticipation

Mark Bosworth and baby Annika
Mark Bosworth – Finland

My partner Milla and I were living in London when we had our first child, Jasper, so we weren’t eligible for a free box. But Milla’s parents didn’t want us to miss out, so they bought one and put it in the post.

We couldn’t wait to get the lid off. There were all the clothes you would expect, with the addition of a snowsuit for Finland’s icy winters. And then the box itself. I had never considered putting my baby to sleep in a cardboard box, but if it’s good enough for the majority of Finns, then why not? Jasper slept in it – as you might expect – like a baby.

We now live in Helsinki and have just had our second child, Annika. She did get a free box from the Finnish state. This felt to me like evidence that someone cared, someone wanted our baby to have a good start in life. And now when I visit friends with young children it’s nice to see we share some common things. It strengthens that feeling that we are all in this together.

Source: BBC