Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

The Evolution of the Financial Support for Family in Romania after the Economic Crisis 1

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

The Evolution of the Financial Support for Family in Romania after the Economic Crisis 1

Article excerpt

Family policy model in Romania

In spite of the constant attempt of harmonizing social policies, EU states still differ very much on the family support. As a consequence of the lack of consensus over the objectives and instruments of family policy, no generally accepted operational definition of family or of family policy has been formulated at the EU level. Nevertheless, the trends identified in previous research do raise certain policy issues that states are addressing in accordance with their approaches.

All the EU member states have developed support measures for families and children, even if only a few have an explicit family policy. All countries supply a series of cash benefits, tax-free allowances and benefits in kind. Yet the comparative analysis of family support indicates that the common points are related rather to general principles than to specific policy objectives, revealing big differences among states, especially in policies implementation. The choices of a certain support measures or others relay on different social and familial values (Popescu R, 2003; 2014).

Under the pressure of the transition to a capitalist market, socialist countries have adopted different solutions as punctual responses to the social problems that emerged, so that they should be considered "hybrid arrangements", with a variety of temporary solutions, not a stable category (Kovacs, 2002; Tomka, 2006). After joining the EU, under the pressures to harmonize policies, social options have become closer to old models (Wisniewski, 2005). Therefore, even if at the beginning Romania was placed in the same category with the rest of former socialist countries, the recent developments led to heterogeneous clusters. Romania is considered to have a non-interventionist model, based especially on the recent austerity policy (Stanescu I., 2014), with high social inequality along with Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria (Knogler and Lankes, 2012).

For 25 years Romania has had a sinuous poverty path corresponding to the dynamic of the economy (Zamfir, 1995; Zamfir, 2001). The state social intervention was rather modest, reactive, and focused on compensating the economical cost, without any clear strategic vision. The competition for budget resources was in general won by the economic sector and lost by the social one.

The public interest on social aspects diminished drastically during the recent economic crises, being replaced by fiscal austerity and cut down of the public expenditures. Once again, like at the beginning of the transition period, poverty was rather ignored by decision-makers (Briciu C., 2014). The evolution of family policy in Romania is much linked to the evolution of public interest in poverty and social inclusion in general, because family protection was viewed more in terms of passive support for the vulnerable and poor.

Family policy was driven by a conservative regulatory framework, a lack of financial effort and a scarcity of childcare services. Romania, as some of the former socialist countries, has moved toward a "familialisation" regime (Saxonberg & Sirovatka, 2006) from a double point of view: on one hand the state reinforced through legislative and policy measures the traditional family values and, on the other hand, the state left most duties to the family unit, adding the burden of greater responsibility (Popescu R., 2014).

Types of benefits

The current system of family benefits in Romania is quite comprehensive, including a wide range of cash benefits and services, with direct forms of support for children and indirect forms for family support. However, the complex configuration of the system has an insufficient level of development and coverage of benefits and services. The level of the allowances and the quality of services provided make it strongly deficient.

The evolution of the financial effort for social protection had a sinuous pattern in the last years. …

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