The Consequences for Caring Mothers
Edited by Jorma Sipilä, Katja Repo and Tapio Rissanen
Chapter 6: Cash-for-Care in Norway: Take-up, Impacts and Consequences for Mothers
Marit Rønsen and Ragni Hege Kitterød INTRODUCTION Since the early 1970s, the main pillar of childcare policies in Norway, as in other Nordic welfare states, has been the state-sponsored provision of high-quality daycare centres. This was especially motivated by the rising employment of mothers, and universal coverage has been the aim although this has not yet been fully achieved in all Nordic countries (Leira, 2006). However, in the early 1990s, another powerful issue appeared on the political scene: parental choice. Cash benefits to parents who stay at home and look after the children themselves or who use other non-subsidized care is one expression of this policy focus. After a heated public debate, a cash benefit for childcare (the so-called cash-for-care, CFC) benefit was introduced in Norway in 1998–99 by the then centre coalition government.1 All parents of 1–2-year-olds who do not use state-sponsored childcare are entitled to the benefit, and children in part-time care may receive a reduced benefit proportional to stipulated weekly attendance. The benefit is a monthly, tax-free flat-rate payment, which, at the time of its introduction, was NOK3000, roughly equivalent to the state subsidy for a place in a daycare centre. Today (2009) the monthly amount is NOK3303 (approximately EUR390). The stated purpose of the reform was threefold: (1) to enable parents to spend more time with their children, (2) to give parents more flexibility in their work and childcare choices, and (3) to distribute public transfers more equally between users and non-users...
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