Putting the child-centred investment strategy to the test : evidence for the EU27
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Antwerp :UA, 2013
CSB working paper / University of Antwerp, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy ; 13/01
University of Antwerp
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 childrens 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.