Skip to main content


Log in

The mismatch between employment and child care in Italy: the impact of rationing

  • OriginalPaper
  • Published:
Journal of Population Economics Aims and scope Submit manuscript


In Italy the women’s participation is among the lowest in Europe. The female employment rate stands almost 13 percentage points below the EU average and 22 below the Lisbon target. One of the most important reasons is related to the characteristics of child care system. We analyze the characteristics of the child care system in Italy and its relationship to the labor market participation decision of mothers. The two decisions are jointly considered in a discrete choice framework, which also allows for simple forms of rationing. We go on to estimate a bivariate probit model of the child care and employment decisions and find evidence that rationing is an important factor in interpreting price effects on utilization rates and employment decisions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Averett SL, Peters HE, Waldman D (1997) Tax credits labor supply and child care. Rev Econ Stat 79(1):125–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bank of Italy Survey (1998) The survey on household income and wealth. Bank of Italy

  • Blau DM, Robins PK (1988) Child care costs and family labor supply. Rev Econ Stat 70(3): 374–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Boeri T, Del Boca D, Pissarides C (2005) Women at work: an economic perspective. Oxford University Press

  • Cannari L, Nucci F, Sestito P (2000) Geographic labour mobility and the cost of housing: evidence from Italy. Appl Econ 32(14):1899–1906

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chiuri MC (2000) Quality and demand of child care and female labour supply in Italy. Labour 14:97–118

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cigno A (1991) Economics of the family. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Cobb CD, Mitchel D, Mitchel AM (2000) Reassessing the role of child care costs in the work and care decisions of Australian families. Aust Bull Labour 26(4):197–215

    Google Scholar 

  • Connelly R (1992) The effect of child care costs on married women’s labor force participation. Rev Econ Stat 74(1):83–90

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dehejia R, Wahba S (1999) Causal effects in non-experimental studies: reevaluating the evaluation of training programs. JASA 94(448):1053–1062

    Google Scholar 

  • Dehejia R, Wahba S (2002) Propensity score matching methods for non-experimental causal studies. Rev Econ Stat 84:151–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Del Boca D (1993) Offerte di Lavoro e politiche pubbliche. Roma, Nuova Italia Scientifica

    Google Scholar 

  • Del Boca D (2002) The effects of child care and part time on the participation and fertility decisions of married women. J Popul Econ 15(3):549–573

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Del Boca D, Locatelli M, Vuri D (2005) Child care choices of Italian households. Rev Econ Househ 3:453–477

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ermisch JF (1989) Purchased child care, optimal family size and mother’s employment: theory and econometric analysis. J Popul Econ 2:79–102

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferrera M (1996) The southern model in social europe. J Eur Soc Policy 6(1):17–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fondazione degli Innocenti (2002) I servizi educativi per la prima infanzia. Quaderno 21

  • Gornick JC, Meyers MK, Ross KE (1997) Supporting the employment of mothers: policy variation across fourteen welfare states. J Eur Soc Policy 7(1):43–70

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gustafsson S, Stafford F (1992) Child care subsidies and labor supply in Sweden. J Hum Resour 2:204–229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heckman JJ (1974) The effect of child care programs on women work effort. J Polit Econ 82(2):136–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heckman JJ (1979) Sample selection bias as a specification error. Econometrica 47:153–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heckman JJ (1993) What has been learned about labor supply in the past twenty years. Am Econ Rev Pap Proc 83(2):116–121

    Google Scholar 

  • ISTAT (1998a) Indagine sulle forze lavoro, Italy

  • Jaumotte F (2003) Labour force participation of women: empirical evidence on the role of policy and other determinants in OECD countries, OECD Economic Studies 37, OECD

  • Jenkins S, Symons E (2001) Child care costs and lone mothers’ employment rates: UK evidence. Manch Sch 69:121–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kimmel J (1998) Child care costs as a barrier to employment for single and married mothers. Rev Econ Stat 80(2):287–299

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kornstad T, Thoresen TO (2002) A discrete choice model for labor supply and child care. DP 315 Statistics Norway Research Department

  • Kreyenfeld M, Hank K (1999) The availability of child care and mothers’ employment in West Germany. DIW Discussion Paper 191, Berlin

  • Meulders D, Plasman O, Plasman R (eds) (1994) Atypical employment in the EC. Aldershot, UK

  • OECD (2001) Employment outlook 2001, Paris

  • Powell L (1997) The impact of child care costs on labour supply of married mothers: evidence from canada. Can J Econ 30(3):577–594

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Powell L (1998) Part time versus full time work and child care costs: evidence for married mothers. Appl Econ 30(4):503–511

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ribar D (1992) Child care and the labour supply of married women: reduced form evidence. J Hum Resour 27(1):135–165

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ribar D (1995) A structural model of child care and the labour supply of married women. J Labour Econ 13(3):558–597

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosen S (1995) Public employment, taxes and the welfare state in sweden. NBER wp. n.5003

  • Rosenbaum PR, Rubin DB (1983) The central role of the propensity score in observational studies for causal effects. Biometrika 70:41–55

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Viitanen T (2005) Costs of child care and female employment in england. Labour 19:149–170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wrohlich K (2004) Child care costs and mothers’ labor supply: an empirical analysis for Germany, DIW Discussion Papers 412, German Institute for Economic Research

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniela Del Boca.

Additional information

Responsible editors: Deborah Cobb-Clark & Tito Boeri

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Del Boca, D., Vuri, D. The mismatch between employment and child care in Italy: the impact of rationing. J Popul Econ 20, 805–832 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: