Living conditions in Europe - childcare arrangements


Data extracted in March 2019

No planned update

Highlights


In 2017, close to half (46.1 %) of all children in the EU who were aged less than three years were cared for exclusively by their parents.

In 2017, 84.8 % of children in the EU aged between three years and the minimum compulsory school age received formal childcare, while it rose to 95.9 % for those aged between the minimum compulsory school age and 12 years of age.

Share of children aged less than three cared for only by their parents, 2017

This article is part of a set of statistical articles that formed Eurostat’s flagship publication, Living conditions in Europe - 2018 edition. Each article helps provide a comprehensive and up-to-date summary of living conditions in Europe, presenting some key results from the European Union’s (EU’s) statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC), which is conducted across EU Member States, EFTA and candidate countries.

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Policy context

EU policy initiatives — for example, the European employment strategy, which has been integrated into the Europe 2020 growth strategy — aim to promote social mobility among women, for example, by reassessing the work-life balance, creating flexible working arrangements, removing tax disincentives for second earners, or providing better access to affordable childcare and other care services.

Childcare and education arrangements

The unequal division of household tasks/duties — including those linked to raising children — is often presented as a key factor when explaining why female employment rates are lower than those recorded for men. This division of tasks may have other implications, such as the gender pay gap or a lack of female participation in social and/or political activities.

Almost half of all children under three years of age were cared for only by their parents

Figure 1: Share of children aged less than three cared for only by their parents, 2017
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_caparents)

In 2017, close to half (46.1 %) of all children in the EU-28 who were aged less than three years were cared for exclusively by their parents (see Figure 1). This share varied considerably across the EU Member States, from lows of 21.3 % in Portugal and 21.6 % in the Netherlands up to highs of more than 70.0 % in Slovakia (72.6 %) and especially Bulgaria (80.5 %).

Almost one third of EU-28 children aged less than three years received formal childcare

Children who are not cared for exclusively by their parents may receive formal childcare, other types of childcare, or both. Formal childcare is defined here as regulated childcare provided away from the child’s home; it includes, inter alia, the time spent at school within compulsory education. Other types of childcare comprise care that is provided by a professional child-minder at the child’s home or at child-minders’ home and care provided by grandparents, other household members (outside parents), other relatives, friends or neighbours.

Table 1: Formal childcare, by age of child and duration of care, 2017
(Share of population in each age group)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_caindformal)

In 2017, more than one third (34.2 %) of children in the EU-28 aged less than three years received formal childcare; they were relatively evenly split between those receiving less than 30 hours of formal childcare per week (17.0 %) and those receiving 30 or more hours (17.2 %).

Among the EU Member States, the share of children aged less than three years receiving 30 hours or more of formal childcare per week in 2017 peaked at 66.0 % in Denmark. More than half of all children aged less than three received formal childcare in France (50.5 %), Sweden (52.7 %), Belgium (52.9 %), Luxembourg (60.8 %), the Netherlands (61.6 %) and Denmark (71.7 %) — see Table 1.

The share of children in the EU-28 that received formal childcare increased according with their age. In 2017, the share of children aged between three years and the minimum compulsory school age was 84.8 %, while it rose to 95.9 % for those aged between the minimum compulsory school age and 12 years of age.

In 2017, Croatia (51.5 %), Poland (57.7 %) and Romania (59.8 %) were the only EU Member States to report that less than three fifths of their children aged between three years and the minimum compulsory school age received some formal childcare. By contrast, more than 95 % of all French, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish and Belgian children in this age group received such care.

Given that formal childcare includes compulsory education, it is not surprising to find that more than 90.0 % of children aged between the minimum compulsory school age and 12 years received some formal childcare (EU-28, 95.9 %); in 2017, this pattern was apparent in each of the EU Member States, other than Slovakia (65.1 %), Romania (88.1 %) and Germany (89.0 %).


Table 2: Other types of childcare, by age of child and duration of care, 2017
(Share of population in each age group)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_caindother)

Table 2 provides information in relation to the provision of other types of childcare, with an analysis by age. In 2017, less than three tenths (29.7 %) of all children in the EU-28 under the age of three years received other types of childcare; as such, this was almost as high as the share receiving formal childcare (34.2 %). More than half of all children under the age of three years received other types of childcare in Romania, Greece, Cyprus and the Netherlands (where the highest share was recorded, at 58.8 %).

For children between the age of three years and the minimum compulsory school age, the share of EU-28 children receiving other types of childcare was comparable to that recorded for children under the age of three years; it stood at 27.7 % in 2017. A slightly lower share (25.1 %) of children aged between the minimum compulsory school age and 12 years received other types of childcare.

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

The data used in this section are primarily derived from data from EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). EU-SILC is carried out annually and is the main survey that measures income and living conditions in Europe, and is the main source of information used to link different aspects relating to the quality of life at the household and individual level.

The reference population is all private households and their current members residing in the territory of an EU Member State at the time of data collection; persons living in collective households and in institutions are generally excluded from the target population. The EU-28 aggregate is a population-weighted average of individual national figures.

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