Household and regional socio-economic characteristics: do they affect the use of childcare in Italy?

Lucia Coppola, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)
Mariachiara Di Cesare, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Marija Mamolo, Vienna Institute of Demography

The increasing female labour force participation and the rigidity of the labour market challenge Italian women’s ability of meeting family and work requirements. In such a context the availability and accessibility of formal childcare might help mothers, the primary caregivers, cope with this task. Public childcare for children aged 3-5 is well developed in Italy and used by 95 percent of children. Contrarily, there is a lack of childcare services for children below age 3, used only by 6 percent. Taking care of children is, thus, often delegated to families which provide themselves with informal childcare. The aim of this paper is to investigate the relationship between the use of formal/informal childcare, on the one hand, family socio-economic characteristics and regional differences regarding formal childcare supply and labour market characteristics, on the other hand. We use Italian 2004 EU-SILC data and select children aged 1-3. In order to explicitly consider variability at regional level, we use a random intercept multilevel logistic model. We run separately two models focusing on the use of formal/informal childcare (Yes/No). Both formal and informal childcare are confirmed to be important means to reconcile work, family and motherhood in Italy, even if they depend on family income. Employed mothers benefit more from formal childcare and the help of relatives who take care of very young children. Better-off families are more likely to use formal childcare, while lower income families use significantly less informal childcare than others do. At the regional level childcare availability and its costs determine significantly the use of it. The higher the availability and the lower the cost, the more likely the use of formal childcare. Informal childcare is more likely in regions with higher employment rates, but it reduces with the increase of female part-time employment.

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Presented in Session 2: Work-Family Balance in Europe