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     Langue(s) : anglais 

Early childhood education and care (ECEC)

Auteur(s) :  Rense Nieuwenhuis, Mara Yerkes, Lovisa Backman, Jokob Strigén

Editeur(s) :  European Commission (EC)

Date :  09/2022


The European Pillar Action Plan highlighted the importance of childcare as an important element to increase women’s employment rates. Childcare is also a headline target of the European Pillar of Social Rights, and central to the Gender Equality Strategy. Against this background, we provide a focused literature review to inform the preparation of a proposal for a Council Recommendation on early childhood education and care (ECEC) provision, including a revision of the Barcelona targets on childcare. Specifically, the focused literature review should contribute to answering two questions: y Which aspects of childcare policy reform affect parents’ decision to use childcare (i.e., participation rates of children)? y Which aspects of childcare policy reform affect labour market participation for mothers as well as gender equality in general? The aim of the focused literature review is to provide an evidence base directly relevant to policy makers regarding the revision of the Barcelona targets. To that end, the emphasis in the literature review is on formal childcare (i.e., paid, non-parental care typically outside the parental home) and specifically on childcare policy reforms (i.e., changes to childcare policy rules relating to various aspects of policy design, such as childcare accessibility (including eligibility conditions), affordability (including out-of-pocket expenses and mode of financing), and quality (mostly focusing on structural quality, such as staff educational requirements or restrictions on group sizes). The review is focused explicitly on reforms related to the outcomes of interest to the European Commission: children’s participation rates, mothers’ employment, working hours, and earnings. This report is structured as follows. First, we provide a theoretical background based on the (comparative) literature on ECEC in relation to its use and outcomes relevant to maternal employment and gender equality. This background covers literature outside the scope of the focused literature review itself, to provide a broader context to interpret – and organise – the results. Next, the methodology will be introduced. A third section presents the results of the focused literature review, focusing consecutively on (aspects of) reforms that affected ECEC use, maternal employment rates, working hours, and finally earnings. The review concludes with an overview of key findings, and a number of broader reflections.

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mot(s) clé(s) :  petite enfance et pré-primaire (ou école maternelle), recherche en éducation