Francesca Carta, Lucia Rizzica, 26 June 2018

A growing number of advanced economies are opting for highly subsidised childcare systems. But studies have shown mixed effects of subsidised childcare on children’s outcomes, suggesting a potential trade-off between promoting female labour supply and providing the best care for children. This column shows that an expansion of subsidised childcare in Italy increased female labour supply without hurting children’s outcomes. Childcare could be made more cost-effective by making it conditional on the mother’s employment status, or incentivising firms to provide corporate childcare options.

Thomas Cornelissen, Christian Dustmann, Anna Raute, Uta Schönberg, 07 June 2018

Many countries operate universal childcare programmes that are open to all pre-school age children. This column analyses data from Germany to show that attending universal childcare at age three improves the school readiness of children from immigrant and disadvantaged family backgrounds far more than of children whose parents have higher socioeconomic status. Yet despite this potential to level the playing field between rich and poor, children who would gain the most from attending childcare early are also those who are least likely to attend. This calls for policies to encourage the enrolment of disadvantaged children in such programmes.

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