D. Stumbrienė, J. Vaitekaitis, A. Jakaitienė
European Educational Research Association (ECER), 2021 m. rugsėjo 3-4 d., Ženeva, Šveicarija. Virtuali
Abstract. Increasing access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become a policy goal of national and international organizations, such as the European Union, the organisations for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank (Mahon 2016). The political discourse has changed – from the provision of childcare services for parents to an investment with high returns for both individuals and society (Macewan, 2015). Based on research (Campbell et al., 2018, Havnes and Mogstad, 2015), the ECEC is especially beneficial for children whose socioeconomic background is lower than average. However, children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds families are less access ECEC (Petitclerc et al., 2017, Vandenbroeck and Lazzari, 2014).
The first research question is how the participation rate and socioeconomic selection differ in European countries. In order to answer this question we provide a comprehensive comparison of participation rates in ECEC using macro data and evaluation of social capital factors that are associated with lower attendance at ECEC using international large-scale assessment data. The second research question is what relations are between socioeconomic selection factors and policy environments in European countries. In order to answer this question we provide a comprehensive comparison of policy environments in counties.
For the assessment of the participation rates in ECEC, we used data from Eurostat. For the evaluation of social capital factors that are associated with lower attendance at ECEC, we used TIMSS 2019 data for 22 European countries. Following previous studies, we considered socioeconomic selection factors such as the highest level of education completed by the child’s parents, the country where the child and his/her parents were born, books and other things that are at the child’s home. All variables used as potential predictors of ECEC. For the purposes of the analysis, the logistic regression analyses were used to predict 1) attendance at ECEC for children under age 3 and 2) attendance at ECEC for children age 3 or older. Following the logistic regressions, we estimated the relations between the policy environments (maternity and parental leave policies, public ECEC provision, tax benefits for ECEC) and ECEC use.
Participation rates for child aged between three and five are high in all European countries – at average 90 percent. The three quarters of child aged between three and five participate in ECEC in all countries except Croatia (rate is 68.2 percent). In France, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands around 95 percent and more participate in ECEC – largely on account of pre-primary education that often guarantee a place for child. Rates for child aged under three are much lower (at average 31 percent) and vary more across European countries. In the Netherlands, France and Norway around 60 percent under age three participate in ECEC, while the rates in Czech and Slovak Republics, Bulgaria and Poland are less than 10 percent. The use of ECEC service is not evenly spread across all groups of children. This research presents the insights from TIMSS 2019 – what socioeconomic selection factors are associated with lower attendance at ECEC in each country and what relations are between these factors and policy environments.
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