The Costs of Children
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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.
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Chapter 10: Childcare as intergenerational support

Extract

In many European countries public child day-care is orientated towards older pre-school children and is usually organised on a part-time basis in order to support the (part-time) employment of one parent, especially the mother. The Nordic countries, however, are seen as ‘dual-earner’ societies (Korpi, 2000) where female labour force participation has been common for decades. Consequently, the public day-care system has been organized on a full-time basis, and conflict between work and family is not as evident as in many other welfare regime countries (Crompton and Lyonette, 2006). Conflict is still possible, especially when work in the contemporary labour market is more demanding and involves overtime hours, atypical working hours and temporary jobs. Balancing working life and family commitments is hence seen as a ‘new social risk’ (Taylor-Gooby, 2004). This risk is especially high for mothers who work on a full-time basis (see also Crompton and Lyonette, 2006). Informal childcare support is essential for many families with small children to help them meet their work and family responsibilities.

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