By Ylenia Brilli, Nevena Kulic and Moris Triventi

This chapter provides an analysis of how parents’ social position affects the use of childcare below 24 months of age in Italy. Beyond looking at the overall relationship between family social position and childcare arrangements, we also investigate how it has changed over time and across different regions. We thus inspect changes in social inequalities in access to formal childcare in a period of rapid expansion in supply. Also, geographical differences in formal childcare provision in Italy are large, and socio-economic gaps in the use of infant care may vary within the Italian territory. Our analyses produces several observations: first, the prevalent form of childcare in Italy for children less than three years old is still parental care, although the use of formal childcare for very young Italian children has doubled from 2002 to 2012. Also, there has been less reliance on informal care over years. Second, over the period studied, we observed a strong association between parents’ social position and the dominant childcare arrangements: highly educated mothers and fathers in upper level jobs are more likely to rely on external childcare, and, in particular, to use formal care. However, the gap in reliance on parental care between families of higher and lower socio-economic position has shrunk over time, because the latter group is also opting increasingly for external childcare in comparison to the past. Still, a growth in the use of formal childcare over the years was particularly strong among more advantaged families, and this has led to increasing socio-economic differences in participation in the formal infant care. Third, over the whole period, formal childcare has been more widespread in the North-Centre than in the South. However, whereas socio-economic differences in the use of formal childcare have remained quite stable over time in the South, they grew substantially in the North-Centre. Finally, we found that both mother’s education and father’s occupation play a role in explaining socio-economic differences, although mother’s education appears to be more relevant.

Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017


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