The Costs of Children

The Costs of Children

Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe

Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson

The expert contributors provide an assessment of how countries can handle the fair allocation of the costs of childcare. They look at the experience within Europe in recent years and show in particular how these interrelate with the objectives of improving income, employment and social inclusion. The book’s conclusion reveals that choice is the key ingredient as families have different views and different degrees of support available from their relatives. Income and social inclusion can provide choice but ironically employment does not always. An employment-based model can sometimes narrow people’s choices, particularly for people on low wages. The major concern is that most existing systems effectively discriminate against mothers.

Chapter 5: A market for childcare services? Private provision and public finance in the Dutch childcare sector

Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy


Throughout Europe, there has been an important policy shift with the introduction of market forces in sectors that have traditionally been organized as a public responsibility. The overall idea is that increased competition will create a downward pressure on costs (internal efficiency) and will make producers more responsive to consumer preferences (external efficiency). In line with this trend, the Dutch childcare sector has been completely reorganized since the introduction of the Childcare Act on 1 January 2005. Financial support is redirected from the local authorities to the parents with the aim of increasing parental choice. The explicit objective of the childcare reform is to stimulate the operation of market forces so that childcare services are provided in an efficient way. The change towards a demand driven financing system implies that there is no longer public provision of childcare services in the Netherlands. Instead only private for-profit (60 per cent of all Dutch childcare organisations) or not-for profit providers (the remaining 40 per cent) operate and compete in the Dutch childcare market (Noailly and Visser, 2009).

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