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New research project examines changes in family formation and social policies across Europe

06 February 2013

What will families look like in the future? Are existing social and family policies compatible with changes in family patterns? A major European research project investigating the diversity of family forms, relationships and life courses in Europe in relation to policies will be launched in February 2013. Prof. Melinda Mills of het University of Groningen will take part in the project.

The project will explore the growing complexity of family configurations and transitions across and within European societies, and examine their implications for children, women and men with respect to inequalities in life chances, intergenerational relations and care arrangements.

Family diversity

The researchers will also investigate how policies address family diversity and its consequences, and identify likely paths of future changes in family composition and related policy needs. The aim is to assess the compatibility of existing policies with the increasingly diverse and complex family life courses in Europe, and to contribute to evidence-based policymaking.

Coordinated by Prof. Livia Oláh of the Stockholm University Demography Unit, researchers from 25 leading universities and research institutes in 15 European countries and three transnational civil society organizations will work together within the project entitled Families And Societies – Changing families and sustainable societies: Policy contexts and diversity over the life course and across generations. The approach is multidisciplinary, combining a wide range of expertise in social sciences, law and the humanities.

The project has secured a grant of €6.5 M from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for a four-year period.

Changing role of children

Prof. Melinda Mills of the Department of Sociology, University of Groningen, and members of her research team will take part in the project. She will lead the Work Package The changing role of children and societal implications: Assisted reproduction, late fertility and childlessness. The general objective of this work package is to examine the changing role of children, with a specific focus on the rise, determinants and societal consequences of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), late fertility and childlessness.

Researchers at the University of Groningen will focus on the topics related to the demographic, regulatory and economic aspects of ART, sperm donation and insemination, and the consequences for utilization and filiation. They will also examine the societal consequences of ART, including the contribution of ART to observed birth and fertility rates, the link between ART and the rise of childbearing at later ages, multiple births and the relationship to legislation, and evidence of sex selection and/or unusual sex ratios after ART.

The group will also document best practices related to regulatory and economic national schemes regarding ART treatment and filiation.


Two new databases will be developed within the project. One will gather the legal content of family forms available in European countries, and another will contain data on EC/EU initiatives in core family-policy areas covering the period from 1957 to the present day.

All major European regions are represented in the project governance. Together with various stakeholders, government agencies, national and local policymakers, non-governmental organizations and additional members of the scientific community across Europe, the project will identify and disseminate innovation and best policy practices.

For further information: Prof. Melinda Mills or Prof. Livia Oláh, Stockholm University Demography Unit, phone: +46 (0)8 16 28 76, mobile +46 (0)73 626 3067, email address:

Last modified:19 February 2021 2.37 p.m.
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