As women have become increasingly integrated into the waged labor force around the world, the idea of childcare has found its way onto the political agenda in every country in the developed world. Experimentation with different social safety-nets is at the heart of contemporary debates, as are innovative mixes of public and private provisions.
Whether childcare is seen as part of society's educational policy, welfare policy, or employment policy affects not only its form and content but also its public image. The US and Canada are reforming welfare and instituting workfare, but Sweden has recently experimented with promoting private services to reduce the size of its public sector and offer citizens more "choice." The Netherlands, Germany and other members of the EU are focusing on sharing work between women and men by increasing leisure and "family time." The contributors use current polices for the care of infants and preschool children to analyze debates and track the emergence of new state welfare practices across a variety of social and political configurations-and offer some conclusions about which methods work the best.
Contributors include: Deborah Brennan, Rianne Mahon, Susan Phillips, Jane Jenson, Anette Borchorst, George Ross, Mariette Sineau, Vincent Della Sala, Ito Peng, Jet Bussemaker, Celia Valiente, Christina Bergquist, Anita Nyberg, Vicky Randall and Sonya Michel
"Each chapter is in its own way masterful....This volume does an outstanding job of laying out the contours of domestic debate over child care....It gives us a clearer picture of the odds against which women in these countries have managed to find a place in the labor market for themselves."
-Political Science Quarterly
"This sophisticated feminist volume highlights the importance of applying a gender lens to comparative welfare state studies. The well-researched and highly informative case studies highlight the challenges for child care provision posed by economic restructuring, the decline of the male breadwinner family, and feminist activism in 13 nations. It convincingly argues that in addition to benefiting children, and regardless of a country's welfare state ideology, quality childcare services can also ease the crisis of care, promote full employment and advance gender inequality. A must read for those concerned about children, gendered politics, and the future of the welfare state
-Mimi Abramovitz, Professor of Social Work and Social Welfare Policy, Hunter College, City University of New York
"A new perspective on the now conventional wisdom that welfare states must sacrifice equality to achieve fiscal balance. This book should be key reading for those who want a more nuanced and deeper understanding of the welfare state crisis, one that looks at the role of the family, together with evolving state policy, and private, market solutions."
-Susan M. Christopherson, Professor of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University
"In this excellent collection edited by two of the foremost scholars working in the area of gender, politics, and states, we seethe diversity in how countries respond to the pressing problems of caring for children in an era when women increasingly want to and have to work for pay, while states simultaneously face new political and fiscal pressures. The authors engage insightfully with both theoretical and practical issues emerging from this key arena of gender politics and policy."
-Ann Shola Orloff, Professor of Sociology, Gender Studies and Political Science, Northwestern University