How Does the Provision of Childcare Services Affect Mothers’ Employment Intentions? Empirical Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment

Oehrli, Dominique; Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle; Lütolf, Meret (2024). How Does the Provision of Childcare Services Affect Mothers’ Employment Intentions? Empirical Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment. Journal of social policy, 53(2), pp. 450-469. Cambridge University Press 10.1017/S0047279422000423

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Numerous studies have demonstrated that the provision of early childhood education and childcare services (ECEC) is associated with higher women’s participation in the labor market. However, many questions about the causal relationship between the supply of childcare and patterns of female employment remain open. In an effort to overcome common endogeneity problems, we conducted a conjoint experiment in Switzerland, which enables us to analyze mothers’ employment intentions in different – and even in some hypothetical – contexts. Our results demonstrate that improving the provision of ECEC services does affect mothers’ intentions to engage in paid labor. Nevertheless, mothers comprise a heterogeneous group. As expected, ECEC services’ effects are limited for mothers with comparatively high levels of employment. In contrast, mothers with low levels of employment are quite reactive to changing policy contexts, especially if external childcare spots for preschoolers become affordable. Notably, elasticity is present not only in the behavior of women with preferences for supplementary, external childcare, but also in that of women with preferences for parental or home-centered childcare. Our study thus highlights childcare policies’ potential to change the patterns of female employment in contexts marked by persistent traditional gender roles and limited childcare provision.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Oehrli, Dominique Anne, Stadelmann, Isabelle, Lütolf, Meret Anna Maria


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Cambridge University Press




Isabelle Stadelmann

Date Deposited:

03 Jun 2022 10:46

Last Modified:

08 Apr 2024 11:57

Publisher DOI:





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