Maternal employment: the impact of triple rationing in childcare in Flanders
This paper analyses how maternal labor supply responds to the price and availability of childcare services. It focuses in particular on the childcare market of Flanders, which is characterised by above average childcare use, a wide variety of price schemes and suppliers, and strong government supervision regarding quality. Variation in prices and the degree of rationing of three types of childcare services at the municipal level are used to identify mothers’ labor supply responses. A discrete labor supply model of the Van Soest (1995) type is elaborated to allow for heterogeneity in prices and to distinguish between rationed and non-rationed households. These extensions rest on rationing probabilities that are estimated separately for informal childcare, formal subsidised childcare and formal non-subsidised childcare using partial observability models (Poirier, 1980). The estimates confirm earlier findings for Germany and Italy, indicating only small price effects and relatively large supply effects. This shows that labor supply incentives of expansion of childcare services are also present in a country which has surpassed the EU target of childcare slots for 33% of children below the age of 3 (Belgium, in contrast with Germany and Italy). Moreover, budgetary simulations suggest the expansion to be beneficial to the exchequer. Rising tax and social security benefits following the increase in labor supply largely exceed the costs of expansion.
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