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Putting the child-centred investment strategy to the test: Evidence for the EU27

  • Wim Van Lancker

Under the social investment paradigm, a child-centred investment strategy has been developed. Mainstay of such strategy is the provision of childcare services, which are expected to increase maternal employment rates, further children’s human capital and mitigate social inequalities in early life. In this article, I critically assess the child-centred investment strategy and explore whether childcare services in European countries in their current state of affairs are up to the task of producing the anticipated benefits. The argument I develop is fairly simple: in order to be effective, childcare services should cover all social groups, in particular children from a disadvantaged background. Drawing on recent EU-SILC data I show that in all but one country this condition is not met: childcare is often used at low or moderate levels, and children from low-income families participate to a much lesser extent than children from high-income families. In order to overcome these childcare deficits, countries should pursue a consistent investment strategy which entails increasing childcare supply and increasing employment opportunities for all social groups. This will require huge budgetary efforts for most member states.

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Paper provided by Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp in its series Working Papers with number 1301.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hdl:wpaper:1301
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  1. Karsten Hank & Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2000. "Does the availability of childcare influence the employment of mothers? Findings from western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-003, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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  5. 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.
  6. Bea Cantillon & Wim Van Lancker, 2011. "Solidarity and reciprocity in the social investment state: what can be learned from the case of Flemish school allowances and truancy?," Working Papers 1109, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  7. Katharina Wrohlich, 2006. "Labor Supply and Child Care Choices in a Rationed Child Care Market," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 570, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Korpi, Walter & Ferrarini, Tommy & Englund, Stefan, 2011. "Women's Opportunities under Different Constellations of Family Policies in Western Countries: Inequality Tradeoffs Re-examined," Working Paper Series 2/2011, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  9. Schütz, Gabriela & Ursprung, Heinrich W. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2008. "Education policy and equality of opportunity," Munich Reprints in Economics 19901, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  11. Hemerijck, Anton, 2011. "21st Century Welfare Provision is more than the "social insurance state": A reply to Paul Pierson," Working papers of the ZeS 03/2011, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
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  13. Tarjei Havnes & Magne Mogstad, 2011. "No Child Left Behind: Subsidized Child Care and Children's Long-Run Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 97-129, May.
  14. Rucker Johnson & Ariel Kalil & Rachel Dunifon, 2012. "Employment Patterns of Less-Skilled Workers: Links to Children’s Behavior and Academic Progress," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 747-772, May.
  15. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
  16. Michael Baker, 2011. "Innis Lecture: Universal early childhood interventions: what is the evidence base?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1069-1105, November.
  17. Tarja K. Viitanen, 2005. "Cost of Childcare and Female Employment in the UK," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(s1), pages 149-170, December.
  18. Baker, Michael, 2011. "Universal Early Childhood Interventions: What is the Evidence Base?," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2011-29, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 28 Nov 2011.
  19. Joris Ghysels & Wim Van Lancker, 2010. "The unequal benefits of family activation: an analysis of the social distribution of family policy among families with young children," Working Papers 1008, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  20. Maria-Isabel Farfan-Portet & Vincent Lorant & Francesca Petrella, 2011. "Access to Childcare Services: The Role of Demand and Supply-Side Policies," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 165-183, April.
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