Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

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Availability, cost or culture?: Obstacles to childcare services for low-income families

Recent research has highlighted the existence of a social bias in the extent to which children have access to childcare. In general, children living in higher income households are more likely to be cared for in childcare centres. While the existence of a social bias in access to childcare services has been clearly demonstrated, we currently lack a clear explanation as to why this is the case. This paper uses a unique dataset based on survey data collected specifically to study patterns of childcare use in the Swiss canton of Vaud (N=875). The paper exploits the variation in the way childcare is organised within the canton. Childcare is a municipal policy, as a result of which there are twenty-nine different systems in operation. Fees are progressive everywhere, but variation is substantial. Availability is also very different. This peculiar institutional setup provides an ideal situation to examine the determinants of childcare use by different income groups. Our findings suggest that differences in the fees charged to low-income households, as well as the degree of progressivity of the fee structure, are significant predictors of use, while availability seems to matter less. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers
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