Mara Yerkes (Utrecht University)
"Creating capabilities: Childcare policies in comparative perspective"
This paper analyses childcare services in six countries, assessing this policy instrument’s potential to facilitate parents’ real opportunities to arrange childcare. It draws on Sen’s capability approach to investigate cross-national varieties of defamilialism and gender assumptions in a regime perspective. We seek to conceptualise and assess five key aspects of childcare provision (accessibility, availability, affordability, quality and flexibility) within the social, political and economic contexts in which parents’ real opportunities are embedded. The conceptualisation of the multifaceted nature of childcare policy provides compelling insights into the complexity of comparing childcare services across countries. The ensuing analysis and comprehensive overview of national policies challenges the idea of a defamilialisation policy cluster. Additionally, the analysis highlights the ways in which childcare services – embedded in these varying defamilialism contexts – shape parents’ childcare capabilities.