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The Relationships Between Local and National Childcare Policies – A Comparison of Nordic and Southern European Cities

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Local Welfare Policy Making in European Cities


We start by comparing the childcare systems in the 11 European cities, looking particularly at whether the childcare provision in these cities follows national provision levels or not. We then focus on analyzing the relationships between local and national childcare policies in four European cities: Bologna (Italy) and Terrassa (Spain) from Southern Europe, and Jyväskylä (Finland) and Aalborg (Denmark) from the Nordic countries. The availability and use of childcare services are analyzed, as are other factors influencing the possibilities and obstacles of labour market participation for mothers with young children. The aim of this analysis is to demonstrate the significance of local welfare systems in their socio-cultural context and to understand the scope that local authorities have to draft local policies and thus to divert from national policy definitions. Local policy making also brings rigid welfare regime categories into question.

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  1. 1.

    This Chapter is based on the original local reports written by the FLOWS research teams concerning childcare systems and policies in the 11 European cities and on a comparative report based on them (Kuronen et al. 2014). These reports provide a more detailed analysis than it is possible to present here.

  2. 2.

    The cities and their selection criteria are explained in the Introduction (Chap. 1).

  3. 3.

    Formal childcare services are here defined (in accordance with Eurostat definition, Plantenga and Remery 2009) as childcare in a collective crèche or a daycare centre (nursery, kindergarten or equivalent), pre-school or equivalent, centre-based services outside school hours, and family daycare (formally recognised childminders), which can be organised either by public, non-profit or for-profit service provider, and which can be either publicly subsidized or not. These are also the main forms of formal care services in all cities and countries studied here.

  4. 4.

    The importance of providing childcare services in order to facilitate the combination of paid work and care responsibilities was adopted by the European Commission at the Barcelona Summit in 2002, which called for the member states to remove disincentives to female labour force participation and set up the so called Barcelona targets to provide childcare by 2010 to at least 90 % of children between 3 years and the mandatory school age and at least 33 % of children under 3 years of age.


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Correspondence to Marjo Kuronen .

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Kuronen, M. et al. (2015). The Relationships Between Local and National Childcare Policies – A Comparison of Nordic and Southern European Cities. In: Kutsar, D., Kuronen, M. (eds) Local Welfare Policy Making in European Cities. Social Indicators Research Series, vol 59. Springer, Cham.

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