Blossfeld, H.-P., Kulic, N. Skopek, J., and Triventi, M. (Eds.) (forthcoming): Childcare, Early Education and Social Inequality – An International Perspective. eduLIFE Lifelong Learning Series. Vol. 4. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
A cross country comparison of access and quality to early education and childcare, and its short- and long-term effects on individuals from different social backgrounds
Core findings in a nutshell
- Families’ socioeconomic and cultural conditions influence their decisions on the type of childcare arrangements, when to start with formal childcare, and how much of it to use
- Parental decisions and their consequences for child development depend on the country-specific availability and characteristics of early education and care
- Good quality early education benefits all children, and it may be particularly advantageous for disadvantaged families
- Although early education may reduce the social gap between children of different social backgrounds, it cannot fully eliminate social inequalities
- The comparative chapter points to an overall positive link between pre-school attendance and reading competencies in primary and secondary school. This relationship is stronger in countries with pre-school systems of good quality and longer weekly attendance hours. In two countries with favorable pre-school system, Denmark and Finland, children of low-educated parents seem to benefit more from early pre-school attendance than those of higher-educated parents (‘equalizing effect’).
Selected country-specific highlights
- United Kingdom: childcare attendance at the age of 18 months has a positive impact on children’s cognitive outcomes, which is stronger for children from low socio–economic background. Extending early education to all disadvantaged 2 year olds may be a good policy instrument to reduce social inequalities.
- Netherlands: successful early education policy for alleviating early social inequalities. Preschools with larger share of disadvantaged children provide higher quality of early education in comparison to other preschools.
- Italy: the use of childcare for the very young Italian children (0-18 months) has doubled from 2002 to 2012, standing at 24%. However, there is an important South-North divide.
External collaborators for childcare and early education phase (in alphabetical order, by country study):
Denmark: Asta Breinholt Lund
Finland: Aleksi Karhula, Jani Erola, Elina Kilpi-Jakonen
Germany: Manja Attig, Hans-Gunther Rossbach, Sabine Weinert
Ireland: Frances McGinnity, Aisling Murray, Helen Russell
Italy: Ylenia Brilli
Netherlands: Paul Leseman, Martine Broekuizen, Hanna Mulder, Saskia Van Schaik, Pauline Slot, Josje Verhagen, Jan Boom
Norway: Henrik Daae Zachrisson, Eric Dearing, Sigrid Blomeke, T Moser
Russia: Gordey Yastrebov
Sweden: Ida Viklund, Ann-Zofie Duvander
Switzerland: Sandra Hupka-Brunner, Christian Imdorf
United Kingdom: Daniela Del Boca, Daniela Piazzalunga, Chiara Pronzato
USA: William Steven Barnett, Ellen Frede
International comparative study: Gosta Esping-Andersen