Excerpted from abstract
This study explores the relationship between ECEC participation for young children (0–2-year-olds) and ECEC policies using multilevel Tobit modelling. At the micro-level, the socio-ecological model is employed to control for the individual- and family-related circumstances, using the EU-SILC data from 2014; and at the macro-level, policy measures regarding the provision, regulation, and financing of ECEC are tested. Particular attention is paid to the role of these policies on two major sources of disadvantage: low-income status and migration background. The findings reveal that hourly ECEC participation is higher in countries where the legal entitlement to ECEC and free ECEC provision start early, the ECEC system is unitary, the structural quality standards are high, and public spending per child is high, and the parental fees are low. While universal access and structural quality policies are particularly favourable for disadvantaged children, high public spending and low parental or private financing for ECEC do not correlate with higher use by disadvantaged children, confirming the risk of a Matthew effect with the way ECEC is financed.