Child care, asili nido e modelli di welfare
The paper presents a model of the market for early child care services, where the preferences of households and local government are influenced by relative prices, disposable income and cost conditions, as well as «social norms» such as the attitude to working women and the value assigned to the educational (as well as supervisory) role of institutional child care. A simple partial equilibrium model describes alternative outcomes in the allocation of private and public provision. In the case of the latter the allocation scheme could be influenced by the welfare model adopted by local governments: this could explain their paternalistic policies and may lead to conflict with the motivations of households, which may be affected by the «consolidation of needs» induced by a long tradition of public provision at prices lower than average costs. Moreover public budget constraints interfere with the diverging attitudes of the various players by introducing rationing schemes and redistributive goals that reduce «market» transparency. The empirical importance of the «non economic» motivations referred to above therefore seems to make them a major issue to be considered when evaluating the allocation process. Using a survey on economic and social conditions of the households in the province of Modena in 2006, which directly surveys the willingness to pay for child care services, the second part of the paper explores the demand for early child care through an econometric estimation of the reservation price with particular attention to «economic» and «non economic» determinants. There are complex relationships between the motivations of local government and households: the paternalistic behaviour of public providers is clear from their supply and price strategies; on the other hand, households seem to be affected by a form of needs consolidation which is a barrier to the correct evaluation of the costs and benefits of services, and by a greater focus on mere «child-minding». The tensions between the different attitudes of households and local governments reflects the different welfare models which implicitly underlie their behaviour. This points to the need for a more explicit dialogue between local governments and citizens on the costs and benefits of the services involved, to improve the transparency of this «market».
|Date of creation:||Oct 2008|
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