By Bronwen Cohen, Peter Moss, Pat Petrie, Jennifer Wallace
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Extra resources for A New Deal for Children?: Re-forming Education and Care in England, Scotland and Sweden
In Sweden, both lone mothers and mothers living with partners have enjoyed high employment rates. By contrast, employment rates for lone mothers in the UK have been low, and they have also been substantially lower than for mothers living with partners (Bradshaw et al, 1996). This has, indeed, become a major concern for UK governments. The current UK government has set a target of 70% employment for lone mothers by 2010. Although in most Swedish families with children both parents are employed full-time (Swedish Children’s Ombudsman, 2001), many women work part time.
But they are also a particularly hard part of context to research. Government documents, for instance, rarely acknowledge, let alone articulate, such influences, presenting instead an objective veneer in which many things are simply assumed and taken for granted. This comment about the US might equally apply to other countries: “while much of the discussion [in the US] is about children, and in particular their poor structural position, there is no discussion about who children might be nor about childhood or the possibility of its social construction” (Moss et al, 1999, pp 25-6).
Exact comparison with the UK is difficult because of different methods of classification: in the UK, ethnicity is self-defined, while Swedish statistics are based on children’s or parents’ country of birth. But Sweden now has a large minority ethnic population, possibly higher than England, where 9% of the population defined themselves as non-white in the 2001 Census, with a further 4% Irish or ‘other’ white non-British. By contrast, and again in terms of the 19 A New Deal for children? 8 (2000) Sources: Eurostat (2002); ONS (2002) Census, Scotland’s minority ethnic population is much lower, with just 2% recorded as non-white.
A New Deal for Children?: Re-forming Education and Care in England, Scotland and Sweden by Bronwen Cohen, Peter Moss, Pat Petrie, Jennifer Wallace