January 2024

IZA DP No. 16729: How Daycare Quality Shapes Norms around Daycare Use and Parental Employment: Experimental Evidence from Germany

Not only the quantity of formal daycare provision for young children, but also its quality has become an issue of political concern. This experimental study investigates how a hypothetical improvement in the quality of daycare facilities shapes normative judgements regarding daycare use and working hours norms for parents with young children in Germany. The analysis is framed using capability-based explanations combined with theoretical concepts of ideals of care and normative policy feedback theories. We draw on a factorial survey experiment implemented in 2019/2020 in the German Family Panel (pairfam) measuring underlying work-care norms for a couple with a 15-month-old child under different contextual conditions. Ordered logistic and linear multilevel regressions were conducted with 5,324 respondents. On average, high hypothetical daycare quality for young children leads respondents to recommend greater daycare use and longer working hours for mothers and fathers by about 1 hour per week. Respondents who hold more egalitarian gender beliefs, those with tertiary education, native Germans and parents tend to respond more strongly to higher daycare quality by increasing their support for full-daycare use. The results consistently point to the relevance of high quality for increasing the acceptance and subsequently take-up of formal daycare.