Skip to main content


Blau, David M. (2003). An Economic Perspective on Child Care Policy. Journal of Population and Social Security (Population), 1(Suppl.), 426-445.


Child care is an issue of great interest to families, employers, and policy makers in the United States. Labor force participation by mothers of young children (ages 0-5) more than doubled from 30.3 percent in 1970 to 62.8 percent in 2000. The questions of who will take care of children while mothers work and how such child care should be financed are very important in the United States as well as in other high-income, low-fertility societies. Among such societies, the United States is an outlier in its child care policy, as in many other areas of social policy. Japan and many European countries include publically-provided and heavily subsidized child care in a portfolio of policies that provide support for families with young children. There is significant public funding of child care in the U.S., although much less in per-child terms than in Japan and Europe, but it occurs in the context of a private market for child care that is the main institution through which child care arrangements are made. Child care markets appear to be much more limited in most high-income low-fertility societies other than the U.S. A large majority of child care arrangements in Europe are in preschools such as “ecoles maternelles” in France, and “scuola materna” in Italy. In those countries, even home-based family day care providers are often part of networks that receive substantial public funding and technical assistance (Waldfogel, 2001).


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Population and Social Security (Population)


Blau, David M.