04 SES 04 C, When Care Meets Inclusion In Early Childhood Education and Care
Increasing access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become a policy goal of national and international organizations, such as the European Union, the organisations for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank (Mahon 2016). The political discourse has changed – from the provision of childcare services for parents to an investment with high returns for both individuals and society (Macewan, 2015). Based on research (Campbell et al., 2018, Havnes and Mogstad, 2015), the ECEC is especially beneficial for children whose socioeconomic background is lower than average. However, children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds families are less likely to access ECEC (Petitclerc et al., 2017, Vandenbroeck and Lazzari, 2014).
The first research question is how the participation rate and socioeconomic selection differ in European countries. In order to answer this question, we provide a comparison of participation rates in ECEC and evaluation of socio-economical factors that are associated with lower attendance at ECEC using international large-scale assessment data. The second research question addresses relations between socioeconomic selection and policy environments regarding ECEC access. As stated by The Council of the European Union (2019), insufficient availability, accessibility, and affordability are main barriers to the use of ECEC services for low-income households. Thus, to address this question we provide a comparison of policy environments in EU counties.
To compare the participation rates in ECEC, we used data from Eurostat. For the evaluation of socio-economical factors that are associated with lower attendance at ECEC, we used TIMSS 2019 data for 23 European countries. Following previous studies, we considered socio-economical factors such as the highest level of education completed by the child’s parents, the country where the child and his/her parents were born, books and other things that are at the child’s home. All variables used as potential predictors of ECEC access. For the purposes of the analysis, the logistic regression analyses were used to predict: 1) attendance at ECEC for children under age 3; and 2) attendance of ECEC for children aged 3 or older. Following the logistic regressions, we estimated the relations between the policy environments (maternity and parental leave policies, public ECEC provision, tax benefits for ECEC) and ECEC use.
Participation rates for children aged between three and five are high in all European countries – at average 90 percent. Three quarters of children aged between three and five participate in ECEC in all countries except Croatia (rate is 68.2 percent). In France, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands around 95 percent and more participate in ECEC – largely on account of pre-primary education that often guarantees a place for the child. Rates of children aged under three are much lower (at average 31 percent) and vary more across European countries. In the Netherlands, France and Norway around 60 percent of children under age three participate in ECEC, while the rates in Czech and Slovak Republics, Bulgaria and Poland are less than 10 percent. The use of ECEC service is not evenly spread across all groups of children. This research presents the insights from TIMSS 2019 – what socio-economical factors are associated with lower attendance at ECEC in each country and what relations are between these factors and policy environments.
Campbell, T., Gambaro, L., & Stewart, K. (2018). ‘Universal’ early education: Who benefits? Patterns in take-up of the entitlement to free early education among three-year-olds in England. British Educational Research Journal, 44(3), 515–538. http://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3445 Council of the European Union (2019). Recommendation of 22 May 2019 on High-Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Systems ST/9014/2019/INIT OJ C 189, 5.6.2019, p. 4–14 Havnes, T., & Mogstad, M. (2015). Is universal child care leveling the playing field? Journal of Public Economics, 127(2015), 100–114. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.04.007 Macewan, A. (2015). Early childhood education, economic development, and the need for universal programs. With a focus on New England. Economics, Management and Financial Markets, 10(1), 11–47. Mahon, R., Anttonen, A., Bergqvist, C., Brennan, D., Hobson, B. (2012). Convergent care regimes? Childcare arrangements in Australia, Canada, Finland and Sweden. Journal of European Social Policy, 22(4), 419–431. http://doi.org/10.1177/0958928712449776 Petitclerc, A., Côte, S., Doyle, O., Burchinal, M., Herba, C., Zachrisson, H. D., Boivin, M., Tremblay, R. E., Tiemeier, H., Jaddoe, V., & Raat, H. (2017). Who uses early childhood education and care services? Comparing socioeconomic selection across five western policy contexts. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, 11(1), 1–24. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40723-017-0028-8 Vandenbroeck, M., & Lazzari, A. (2014). Accessibility of early childhood education and care: A state of affairs. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 22(3), 327–335. DOI: 10.1080/1350293X.2014.912895
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