Diverging Views? How Personal Attitudes and Perceived Norms about Formal Childcare Change during the Family Formation Phase

Samira Beringer , Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)
Sabine Diabaté, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)
Martin Bujard, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

Recently, most European countries experienced an expansion of professional childcare in order to allow mothers to return to work earlier. However, the use of this infrastructure depends on cultural acceptance. While there is some knowledge about the attitudes towards external day-care of toddlers, there is a research gap on their stability during the transition to parenthood. We use German panel data (2012, 2016) which measure individual attitudes and norms perceived in society regarding day-care. We analyse how both concepts change during the family formation phase, by panel regressions with between-within (hybrid) models to capture intra- and interpersonal changes. The results show significant changes in the personal attitudes of young families: They are less sceptical about day care than those who remain childless. The between component confirms the well-known associations with day-care acceptance for highly educated, less religious persons and women. In contrast to the attitudes, the perceived norms show no systematic changes due to the transition to parenthood. The findings confirm that cultural conceptions are influenced by life course events. These changes have to be seen in the family policy context where Germany faced a paradigm shift. New parents were confronted with a new opportunity of child-care offerings and peers using them, and therefore acceptance has increased. The constantly perceived norms within society suggest a persistence of traditional reservations. These diverging views of the personal and the societal level are relevant for theoretical approaches regarding the change of attitudes and norms within the life course.

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 Presented in Session 95. Challenges of Parenting