Day-Care Expansion and Changing Attitudes of Parents

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Gundula ZOCH, Bamberg Graduate School of Social Science (BAGSS), Germany
Research on attitudes has dominantly focused on inter-cohort change. Thereby, gender, education, employment status, marital or family status but also the institutional setting have been revealed as major influences on gender role attitudes. However, evidence about attitude change over the life-course is scarce, in particular with respect to the institutional impact. Recent reforms of parental leave and child care policies in Germany indicate a paradigm shift in family policies which aimed at improving compatibility of employment and family care, speeding up maternal labour market return, and increasing paternal child care involvement. In line with this, recent research suggests an effect of changes in parental leave legislation on social norms and identity change for Germany. In line with this, the recent expansion of day-care slots for under-three-year-olds could be associated with an intra-cohort attitude change of parents.

Using this recent reform, we investigate whether an increase in state subsidized Early Childhood Education and Care facilities is associated with a change in gender role attitudes. Using data on mothers and fathers based on the German Family Panel pairfam (2008-2013) and annual administrative records on day-care provision on district level we apply fixed-effects panel models. Results indicate that the expansion of day-care is associated with less traditional attitudes towards maternal employment and marriage for West German mothers and East German fathers. However, findings for West German fathers seem to be more heterogeneous. For East German mothers, results suggest that once provision has increased beyond a certain threshold, there is no additional change in attitudes. In addition, more egalitarian attitudes towards maternal employment seem to be associated with maternal employment transitions mainly for West German parents. The results point to the importance of intra-cohort attitude change and the moderate relevance of the institutional setting in general and day-care in particular for gender role attitudes.