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Caring for children in Europe: How childcare, parental leave and flexible working arrangements interact in Europe

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Janta, Barbara
Publication Date: 
1 May 2014


Executive summary:

  • This brief examines how paid work and the care of children are reconciled by families in European Union Member States. It analyses how childcare, parental leave and working time instruments are combined and used in a complementary way.
  • Most parents combine various reconciliation instruments, and that particular childcare arrangements are related to parents' preferences and norms, a child's age, and labour market opportunities for parents. Our research shows that high participation rates in formal childcare settings are not a prerequisite for high levels of female labour force participation. However, formal childcare has positive consequences for children, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds, whereas lack of or limited formal childcare options can have negative consequences for female career development. 
  • Since parents prefer flexibility in reconciliation, the state should ensure that all parents have access to suitable childcare provision and are supported in their labour force participation.