Childcare policy, maternal employment, and the UK policy debate: examining the evidence

| 09:30 - 16:00
Location: Church House Conference Centre - Dean's Yard, Westminster, London SW1P 3NZ


Most OECD countries, including England, spend a significant amount of public money offering free or subsidised childcare, but many parents still cite the high cost of childcare as a barrier to work. To help families further, many countries have expanded, or are considering expanding, the generosity of their childcare subsidies. In England, the entitlement to free early education is set to double from 15 to 30 hours a week for 3- and 4-year olds of working parents from September 2017.

In this context, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Research Centre for Micro-Social Change (MiSoC) at the Institute for Social and Economic Research are organising a conference bringing together national and international experts on childcare and its role in promoting parental labour supply to discuss how evidence can inform the current policy debate in England.  Will the extended entitlement in England lead parents to work more? Are childcare subsidies an effective way of supporting parents, especially mothers, to return to work and help families with the cost of childcare?  How else could these objectives be achieved?

Confirmed speakers

  • Stefan Bauernschuster, Professor of Economics at the Universitat Passau (Germany)
  • Dalia Ben-Galim, Director of Policy, Advice & Communications, Gingerbread
  • Sally Burlington, Head of Policy, Local Government Association
  • Elizabeth Cascio, Associate Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College (US)
  • Sarah Cattan, Senior Research Economist, Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Gillian Paull, Senior Associate, Frontier Economics 
  • Natalie Perera, Head of Research, Education Policy Institute

In the morning, the conference will hear from Elizabeth Cascio and Stefan Bauernschuster, two international experts on childcare and maternal labour supply, who will offer an international perspective on the policy issues faced by the UK government. There will also be an opportunity to hear the new results of a joint IFS-ISER project comparing the impact of part-time vs. full-time provision of free childcare on parents’ labour supply in England.  The afternoon session will include a panel discussion, with contributions from a broad range of speakers bringing different perspectives on the pros and cons of current childcare policy in England.

Figure 1. Percentage of mothers and fathers in work, by age of youngest child

The event is organised by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Research Centre for Micro-Social Change (MiSoC) at the Institute for Social and Economic Research. We are grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council for funding this event through MiSoC and the Impact Acceleration Account held at the IFS.