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Class Politics in the Sandbox? An Analysis of the Socio‐Economic Determinants of Preferences Towards Public Spending and Parental Fees for Childcare

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Neimanns,  Erik
Politische Ökonomie von Wachstumsmodellen, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Neimanns, E., & Busemeyer, M. R. (2021). Class Politics in the Sandbox? An Analysis of the Socio‐Economic Determinants of Preferences Towards Public Spending and Parental Fees for Childcare. Social Policy & Administration, 55(1), 226-241. doi:10.1111/spol.12638.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-C187-7
Abstract
This article analyses the socio‐economic determinants of public preferences towards public spending and parental fees for childcare and how they are conditioned by institutional contexts. Previous studies of childcare policy preferences have focused on attitudes regarding the provision of care. However, when it comes to questions of financing, we know astonishingly little about how supportive individuals actually are of expanding pre‐school early childhood education and care, and how support varies across different socio‐economic groups in society. This is an important research gap because childcare provision and how it is financed have redistributive implications, which vary depending on the institutional design of childcare policy. Using novel and unique survey data on childcare preferences from eight European countries, we argue and show that preferences towards expanding childcare are more contested than it is often assumed. The institutional structure of childcare shapes how income matters for preferences towards how much should be spent and how provision should be financed. Where access to childcare is socially stratified, the poor and the rich develop different preferences towards either increasing public spending or reducing parental fees in order to improve their access to childcare. The findings in this article suggest that expanding childcare in systems characterised by unequal access can be politically contested due to diverging policy priorities of individuals from different social backgrounds.