In Britain a typical couple on a low or middle income would be $148 a week better off if they split up and lived separately. This takes into account the costs of running separate households:
Three out of four ordinary families would be better off living apart than sharing a home under Labour's benefits system.
Tax credits and benefits are increasingly skewed towards single mothers, a study has shown.
A typical couple on a low or middle income would be £69 a week better off if they lived apart. For some families, such as those with one child and a wife who stays at home, the premium would be almost £100 a week [$214].
In Sweden, there has long been a system of paid parental leave. It is, as you would expect, mostly taken up by mothers rather than fathers. Mothers choosing to stay home with their babies is considered to be an oppressive gender inequality in Sweden, so a "gender equality bonus" is being introduced in which families will be paid up to $526 a month extra if the parental leave is split evenly between fathers and mothers.
The Moderate Party of PM Fredrik Reinfeldt wants to push the concept further, and pay out additional equality bonuses to men who choose to work part time or who stay home with sick children.
The Moderate Party proposals have met some resistance, from a leading newspaper Svenska Dagbladet:
Svenska Dagbladet compares the move to unnecessary 'social engineering' and admonishes the Moderates for undue meddling in decisions about how families divide their household responsibilities.
"Citizens are fully capable of deciding what's best for them on their own," it writes ...
In addition, the paper openly questions whether Swedish taxpayers would tolerate the measure.
"Citizens already pay inappropriately high taxes with impressive levels of tolerance because they expect basic services tailored to their needs, and not to be lectured by some 'gender equality police' who disapprove of their family's make up."
In Sweden, a man who sets out to be a good provider will find his efforts undercut by:
1) Having to pay an exorbitant share of his wages in tax.
2) His wife being supported to stay home by a paid maternity scheme rather than by his own wage.
3) Losing "equality bonuses" through his decision to go out to work.
And this is all in aid of an ideological belief that gender equality means men and women playing exactly the same role in the family.
I've written previously on the ideological basis for Swedish views on gender: The case against Sweden.
To read the views of a Swedish woman on these policies see Feminine rebellions: the Viking Princess.