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Pourquoi réformer la politique d'accueil de la petite enfance en France ? Comparaison avec les politiques d'autres pays de l'OCDE


  • Olivier Thévenon


France is often cited as an example by its OECD partners for the success of its family policy. The main markers of this success are a high fertility rate combined with an above-average female employment rate and a relatively low proportion of children in poverty. This situation is due, in part, to France’s generous system of cash benefits, tax breaks and preschool childcare provision. But, childcare capacity in France is not sufficient to absorb increased demand resulting from the rising birth numbers in recent years and the falling nursery school enrolment rates of the under-threes. In addition, the three-year benefit entitlement granted to mothers of two or more children who leave the labour force is one of the reasons why the employment rate of mothers of three children in France is below the OECD average. This article discusses the potential advantages of expanding preschool childcare provision and combining it with a system of parental leave that is shorter but more generous in financial terms than at present, the aim being to enhance the work-life balance, improve gender equality and keep families out of poverty. We estimate that the “cost” of expanding childcare provision to cover all the children concerned represents around 0.5 % of GDP, an amount which is of the same order of magnitude as the additional wealth created by an increase in female labour force participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Thévenon, 2011. "Pourquoi réformer la politique d'accueil de la petite enfance en France ? Comparaison avec les politiques d'autres pays de l'OCDE," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 121(5), pages 667-712.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:repdal:redp_215_0667

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