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The beneficiaries of childcare expansion


  • Joris Ghysels
  • Kim Vercammen


This paper investigates how expansion of the supply of childcare is likely to change the use of childcare services and especially the extent to which the social imbalance in its use is corrected. The empirical case at hand is Flanders, the largest region of Belgium, which has a comparatively speaking large offer of formal childcare slots, but continues to struggle with excess demand and uneven access. The latter is crucial for policy makers. Is rationing to be blamed for the underrepresentation of certain social groups in formal childcare or is an explanation to be found in other circumstances such as poor employment prospects or more traditional family values? In this paper we simulate a simple expansion of the number of formal childcare slots and investigate its consequences, in terms of how this expansion affects the use of both formal and informal childcare, keeping all other circumstances constant. We show that a large increase in use can be expected for those groups that are currently underrepresented in the formal childcare sector, even without a change in the mix of subsidised and non-subsidised service providers and without other contextual changes (e.g. maintaining the small monetary gain from paid employment for low-skilled mothers when making use of formal childcare at its current prices). Yet, we also show that while the social gap is narrowed, the childcare sector cannot be expected to close the gap entirely by itself. Furthermore our estimates suggest that the expansion of formal childcare is likely to result in part-time combinations of formal and informal care, rather than in complete crowding-out of informal care.

Suggested Citation

  • Joris Ghysels & Kim Vercammen, 2012. "The beneficiaries of childcare expansion," Working Papers 1202, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdl:wpaper:1202

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Katharina Wrohlich, 2008. "The excess demand for subsidized child care in Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(10), pages 1217-1228.
    2. Viitanen, Tarja K & Arnaud Chevalier, 2003. "The Supply of Childcare in Britain: Do Mothers Queue for Childcare?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 211, Royal Economic Society.
    3. Havnes, Tarjei & Mogstad, Magne, 2009. "No Child Left Behind: Universal Child Care and Children's Long-Run Outcomes," Memorandum 23/2009, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    4. Poirier, Dale J., 1980. "Partial observability in bivariate probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 209-217, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item


    crowding-out; Formal childcare services; rationing; social distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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