Research resources: International comparisons of childcare policy


This is the second of a series providing resources for childcare research. These blogs are intended for use by those wanting to navigate the evidence base for childcare policy. They point to where research is available, rather than summarising it. Topic #2 is research on international comparisons of childcare policy.


The OECD provides the most comprehensive research on international comparisons – provided you’re interested in western economies. Some of their most recommended publications are:

  • Education indicators in focus: Enrolment in pre-school (2016). This summarises the data on pre-school attendance across the OECD
  • A comparison of the cost of childcare across OECD countries (2012)
  • Doing better for families (2011) gives a comprehensive review of policy differences across the block, as does Starting Strong II:Early Childhood Education and Care (2006)
  • If you’re more interested in work incentives and work/family policy interactions, this is an aged but good read: Can Parents Afford to Work? Childcare Costs, Tax-Benefit Policies and Work Incentives (2005)
  • For an understanding of early childhood education and care policy in individual OECD countries, these country reports are invaluable

Other international analyses

There are lots of choose from….

  • The Department for Education’s Evidence to inform the Childcare Commission (2013) includes two comprehensive analyses: Part 1 – International Evidence on Childcare Policies and Practices and Part 2 – A comparison of International childcare systems
  • For a European context, The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) has some useful research. This Manchester Policy Briefing (2014) is also useful
  • World Class: What does international evidence tell us about improving quality, access and affordability in the English childcare market? (2014) is written by Kitty Stewart (LSE) and Ludovica Gambaro (IoE), and published by the Resolution Foundation
  • For a great chart on the correlation between childcare affordability and national inequality, there’s the Economist Intelligence Unit, Starting well: Benchmarking early education across the world (2012)
  • The Scottish Government published Early Childhood Education and Care Provision: International Review of Policy, Delivery and Funding( 2013). It includes country reports for Scotland, England, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, France and the Netherlands

Spotlight on Scandinavia

The poster child of the public policy world holds it own for childcare policy.

  • For a good background to the Nordic states model, see Hertie School of Governance (2009) The Nordic Model: Conditions, Origins, Outcomes, Lessons. Written by the Nordic Council of Ministers, Parental leave, childcare and gender equality in the Nordic countries (2011) is also an excellent reference guide
  • Gosta Esping-Andersen has written extensively on models of education and care provision in Scandinavia. “Education and Equal Life-Chances: Investing in Children.” is a good if aged chapter on the subject, in Social Policy and Economic Development in the Nordic Countries (published in 2005 by Palgrave Macmillan, with Editors Olli Kangas and Joakim Palme)
  • On Sweden: this 2011 article by Ingela Naumann gives a good overview of Sweden’s approach

That’s it for now. Comments and suggestions welcome!


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