Stratified Childcare - Stratified Attitudes? Institutional Characteristics of Childcare Services and Their Consequences for Work-Family Attitudes

Friday, July 14, 2017
Humanities LT G255 (University of Glasgow)
Erik Neimanns , University of Konstanz
Childcare policies have become increasingly popular in recent years as a central element of social investment as they are said to support in particular disadvantaged children and to respond to parents´ demand for policies easing the reconciliation of work and family life. Empirically, however, there is strong cross-national variation in the expansion of childcare. In addition, research identified social stratification in access to childcare, thereby questioning the feasibility of central promises of the social investment approach. However, little is known about how public attitudes towards the work-family nexus may actually depend on the country-specific context of childcare policies. Using data from the OECD and three waves of the ISSP for 21 countries, I estimate multilevel models to study the effects of childcare institutions on work-family attitudes of different social groups over time. I examine how the generosity of childcare policies and the inherent degree of social stratification affect individual perceptions of the consequences of mothers’ employment for their children and family life. As a core contribution, the paper highlights the crucial role of private childcare fees. With high fees, individuals remain more skeptical of mothers´ labor market participation, despite sometimes quite generous public spending on childcare. Social stratification in access to childcare translates into social stratification in attitudes towards female employment, which is likely to persist and even intensify, as the poor benefit less from an expansion of public childcare spending. Thus, unequally distributed benefits of social investment may present a difficult political terrain for further social investment reforms.
  • Erik Neimanns _ Stratified childcare - stratified attitudes _ CES July 2017.pdf (945.3 kB)