New initiative to spread the reality of large families: The ELFAC Papers

How many times have we heard a speech about large families in a congress or training event, by an expert or by a professional of the family movement, and we have thought: “Good if I could have it written”, or also: “These data or these arguments should spread and be better known “? This is just what ELFAC propose with a new initiative that starts today, the ELFAC Papers.

The objective of ELFAC Papers is to disseminate in a summarized way, in just four sheets, reasons and data from scientific evidence on the reality of large families. It is a fact that there is a huge gap in the academy about large families. While other family or coexistence realities are being exhaustively studied and analyzed from the scientific world, large families continue to be an invisible group; but existing and real in spite of everything, with its own characteristics, needs and influence in society.

With ELFAC Papers we want to publicize that reality. We think that this simple approach can encourage scholars and experts to delve into that reality, and get more studies on large families. And also to help those who work in the associative movement of large families, and promoting it, and those responsible for developing public policies, the policy makers, so that they have at their disposal reasoning and data that help them in their work.

“Families with children are happier and satisfied, but for large families life is harder”

The first issue is an analysis by the President of ELFAC, Regina Maroncelli, on the data on large families that appear in the study “Household composition and wellbeing”, published by the Eurofound agency in December 2019.

One first interesting result of the study shows that nuclear families with children under 18 reports best happiness and life satisfaction rate among households. The second relevant result of the study is the fact that for the second time in Europe, and for the first time for Eurofound, large families are regarded with a special attention and their specificity, and otherness respect nuclear families with one or two children is taken in account.

According to Eurofound data, a nuclear family with minor children could be considered the “winning” household model when compared to other households. But when it comes to families with three or more children, the situation appears less rosy: life satisfaction is always high (7.3) slightly lower that of couples with 1 or 2 children but still higher than for singles and single parents.

Problems for a family with children, if anything, start when it comes to economic conditions. While the study confirms that “the greatest differences in well-being between large and smaller families are income-related, what is completely missing, are the final recommendations addressed to policy makers. There are no suggestions about helping large families reach the living standards of their fellow smaller families and fill the income gap that is related to the number of children, even if, in times of low birth rates, ageing and depopulation, supporting those families who decide to have more than the “usual” number of children might sound quite reasonable and fair.

Maroncelli concludes that “it should be a matter of equal opportunity to compensate those who decide to do so, thus fighting child poverty and helping society to maintain its demographic, social and economic balance. The road to recognize large families’ necessities is still long.”.

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