Examining the case of tax and social transfer policies in Switzerland as an example, this project aims to find out how strongly family policy in the Swiss cantons takes gender-relevant factors into consideration, and what factors promote or hinder evidence-based policy making.

Lay summary

Policy making in the case of taxes and social transfer and its consequences for single parents and couples with children varies widely from canton to canton. Analyses show that, for many couples, splitting paid employment between them does not pay off financially. This is problematic not only for gender equality but also for economic policy.

The concept of evidence-based policy assumes that policy should benefit from systematically obtained, empirically based and argumentatively well-founded knowledge. This project examines whether evidence-based information was available to the cantonal policy makers for decisions in the tax and social transfer policy area, and what influence this information had on policy making. The study will also focus on factors that promoted or hindered evidence-based policy making.
As a starting point of the analysis, an inventory of relevant family policy decisions at the cantonal level will be drawn up. Then it will be examined whether the policy making was based on evidence-based information and how differences among the cantons can be explained. Selected decision-making processes in six cantons will also be investigated as case studies with the aim to compiling a detailed analysis of the effects.

Gender mainstreaming aims to take into consideration the direct and indirect effects of all policy decisions on gender equality. A precondition for this is that evidence-based information is used in the policy-making process. For this reason, in addition to scientific publications, the project team plans to develop a checklist for use by cantonal administrations and parliaments. The checklist should sharpen awareness of the effects of tax and social transfer policy on gender equality.