Impact of the Institutional Setting of ECEC on the Use of Child Care in Europe

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Özgün UNVER, HIVA - KU Leuven, Belgium
Ides NICAISE, HIVA - KU Leuven, Belgium
Tuba BIRCAN, HIVA - KU Leuven, Belgium
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is one of the most crucial elements of social investment to alleviate social and economic inequalities. As the European welfare states realised the importance of ECEC especially for disadvantaged children as an early investment in their human capital, the accessibility of ECEC services became a hot topic in Europe and the ECEC participation rate became an important welfare indicator. Certainly, the way ECEC services are regulated, provided and financed has a huge impact on their accessibility and actual use. This paper investigates the effect of the institutional setting of ECEC (regulation, provision and financing) on the individual use of ECEC services in Europe. We examine in which settings the families opt for formal centre-based, informal, and/or familial ECEC. Besides looking at general patterns of inequality, we also control for belonging in a disadvantaged group (e.g. low-income, migrant, single parent) to see if they differ in ECEC use.

We use multilevel modelling to analyse the two-level structure. The first level is the family-level where various demographic and socio-economic indicators determine the use of ECEC services. The second level is the country-level where characteristics related to the institutional setting of ECEC come into play such as age of legal entitlement to ECEC, split or unitary ECEC, private provision, public spending, etc. Demographic, socio-economic, and ECEC type- and use-related variables are explored based on the 2013 cross-sectional data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). Macro-level indicators are taken mainly from Eurostat and Eurydice. The novelty of this research is in examining the impact of the wider institutional setting of ECEC system on the actual use of these services. We expect the results of this study to help policy-makers in making better choices to improve access to ECEC, especially by disadvantaged families.