Social Investment or Child Care on the Cheap? The Goals of Quality, Workforce, and Access in the Expansion of Early Childhood Education and Care
Governments around the world have been expanding early childhood education and care (ECEC) systems in recent years – often in the name of social investment – yet some do so in ways that are more in line with social investment objectives than others. To investigate these differences, Kimberly Morgan examines ECEC policymaking in six countries that have significantly expanded ECEC spending in recent years: France, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, New Zealand, and Norway. The analysis probes how ECEC expansions have come about in these countries, using indicators that capture quality, accessibility to low-income families, and the quality of ECEC jobs. The paper then explores why countries have pursued varying goals. One finding concerns the weight of historical legacies in shaping the direction countries take as they develop early childhood services. Left political power is the second factor influencing the nature of ECEC expansion. Governments of the left and the right have devoted more spending to child care and early education programs in recent years, yet only left parties do so in ways mindful of gender and class equality. These governments are therefore more likely to develop programs that invest in children, their parents, and child care workers.
Kimberly J. Morgan is professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. Her research focuses on the politics of social policy in the United States and Western Europe, with particular interests in family policies, health care, and immigration. Morgan is the author of two books, “Working Mothers and the Welfare State: Religion and the Politics of Work-Family Policy in Western Europe and the United States” and, with Andrea Louise Campbell, “The Delegated Welfare State: Medicare, Markets, and the Governance of Social Policy.” She is a co-editor of the “Oxford Handbook of U.S. Social Policy,” and her articles have appeared in journals such as “American Journal of Sociology,” “Comparative Politics,” and “Comparative Political Studies.” Morgan received her Ph.D. in political science from Princeton University and, before joining GWU, was a post-doctoral fellow at NYU’s Institute of French Studies and a participant in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Scholars in Health Policy Research program at Yale University. In 2008-09, Morgan was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The importance of early childhood (ages 0-8) is well established, but less is known about the educational, community, and social services interventions that can set children on successful long-term paths. The Early Childhood Initiative (ECI), established by the Center for Child and Family Policy, seeks to bring together scholars from across Duke to address these challenges and produce world-class scholarship that helps maximize the potential of all children during the early childhood years. ECI Seminar Series speakers range across disciplines but share an interest in bringing cutting-edge science to bear on policies affecting young children.
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