The aim of this paper is to explore the various views of the social policy elites in the Baltic States concerning family policy and, in particular, family benefits as one of the possible explanations for the observed policy differences. This study is based on semi-structured expert interviews from the three Baltic countries conducted in 2002. The qualitative analyses indicate that the Baltic States differ significantly with regard to the reasons behind their family policies. Lithuanian decision-makers seek to reduce poverty among families with children and enhance parents’ responsibility for bringing up their children. Latvian policy-makers act so as to increase the birth rate and create equal opportunities for children from all families. Policies that seek to create equal opportunities for all children and the desire to enhance gender equality was more visible in the case of Estonia in comparison with the other two countries. This study thus indicate how intimately the attitudes of top-level bureaucrats, policy-makers and researchers shape social policy.

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