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Who reaps the benefits? The social distribution of public childcare in Sweden and Flanders

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  • Wim Van Lancker
  • Joris Ghysels

Abstract

The main goal of this paper is to unravel the social distribution of childcare policies: who benefits from government investment on public childcare? If childcare policies are mainly used by those already working, and (scarce) budgetary resources thus end up with the higher income brackets, genuine concern arises about the distributional consequences of childcare policies on the one hand, and its effectiveness as an instrument to activate mothers with young children into the labour market on the other. Answering this question is a complex endeavour, because one has to simultaneously take into account the (possibly income-differentiated) tariff structure of childcare services and private childcare costs (parental fees), government expenditures (subsidies to childcare providers) and tax concessions. In this contribution, we develop a fine-grained analysis to reveal the distributional impact of public childcare for two countries (Flanders/Belgium and Sweden) already reaching the Barcelona targets for under 3s and interpret the results in a European perspective. We find that, although both cases report high coverage rates, Sweden and Flanders have very different and even opposite distributional outcomes. Both examples provide us with valuable lessons on the redistributive nature of “new risk policies” and the effectiveness of childcare as an instrument of labour market activation.

Suggested Citation

  • Wim Van Lancker & Joris Ghysels, 2011. "Who reaps the benefits? The social distribution of public childcare in Sweden and Flanders," Working Papers 1106, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdl:wpaper:1106
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    File URL: http://www.centrumvoorsociaalbeleid.be/sites/default/files/CSB%20Working%20Paper%2011%2006_April%202011.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Danièle Meulders & Jérôme De Henau & Sile Padraigin O'Dorchai, 2007. "Making time for working parents: comparing public childcare provision," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7708, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Rickard Eriksson & Magnus Nermo, 2010. "Care for Sick Children as a Proxy for Gender Equality in the Family," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 97(3), pages 341-356, July.
    3. Mörk, Eva & Sjögren, Anna & Svalelryd, Helena, 2008. "Cheaper child care, more children," Working Paper Series 2008:29, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    4. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005.
    5. Anna Brink & Katarina Nordblom & Roger Wahlberg, 2007. "Maximum fee versus child benefit: a welfare analysis of Swedish child-care fee reform," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(4), pages 457-480, August.
    6. Joris Ghysels & Gerlinde Verbist & Josefine Vanhille, 2010. "Taxing Care : enhancing the childcare time in the dual earner era," Working Papers 1001, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aia:ginidp:dp53 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jeroen Horemans, 2016. "The part-time poverty gap across Europe: How institutions affect the way part-time and full-time workers avoid poverty differently," Working Papers 1603, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    3. Verbist, G. (Gerlinde) & Matsaganis, M. (Manos), 2012. "GINI DP 53: The Redistributive Capacity of Services in the EU," GINI Discussion Papers 53, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    4. Tine Hufkens & Gerlinde Verbist, 2016. "The distributive effects of work-family life policies in European welfare states," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/09, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    5. Wim Van Lancker, 2013. "Putting the child-centred investment strategy to the test: Evidence for the EU27," Working Papers 1301, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    6. Verónica Amarante & Maira Colacce & Victoria Tenenbaum, 2017. "National Care System in Uruguay: Who benefits and who pays?," WIDER Working Paper Series 002, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Jonas Wood & Sebastian Klüsener & Karel Neels & Mikko Myrskylä, 2017. "Is a positive link between human development and fertility attainable? Insights from the Belgian vanguard case," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2017-014, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    8. repec:spr:soinre:v:132:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1344-z is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Rense Nieuwenhuis & Ariana Need & Henk Van der Kolk, 2017. "Family Policies, Women’s Earnings, and Relative Inequality Among Households: Trends in 18 OECD Countries from 1981 to 2008," LIS Working papers 599, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    10. Sebastian Klüsener & Karel Neels & Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2013. "Social norms, family policies, and fertility trends: insights from a comparative study on the German-speaking region in Belgium," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2013-003, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    11. Wim Van Lancker & Joris Ghysels, 2013. "Great expectations, but how to achieve them? Explaining patterns of inequality in childcare use across 31 developed countries," Working Papers 1305, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    12. Wim Van Lancker & Jeroen Horemans, 2017. "Into the Great Wide Unknown: Untangling the Relationship between Childcare Service Use and In-Work Poverty," Working Papers 1704, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    13. Tim Rie & Ive Marx, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Belgium," GINI Country Reports belgium, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.

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