Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Doing It for the Kids? The Determinants of Attitudes towards Public Childcare in Unified Germany


In order to explain why people differ in their attitudes towards public childcare, we present a theoretical framework that integrates four causal mechanisms: regime socialisation, political ideology, family involvement and material self-interest. Estimation results obtained from multivariate regressions on the 2002 German General Social Survey and replications on the 2008/9 European Social Survey can be condensed into three statements: (1) Regime socialisation is the single most important determinant of attitudes toward public childcare, followed by young age as an indicator of self-interest and political ideology. Family involvement does not have any sizeable impact. (2) Regime socialisation conditions the impact of some indicators of political ideology and family involvement on attitudes toward public childcare. (3) Despite a paradigmatic shift in policy, the dynamics of 2008 mirror those of 2002, highlighting the stability of inter-individual differences in support. The results suggest that the ‘shadow of communism’ still stretches over what people in the East expect from the welfare state and that individual difference in the demand for public childcare appears to be highly path-dependent.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. Alesina and N. Fuchs-Schündeln (2007), ‘Good bye Lenin (or not?): the effect of communism on people's preferences’, The American Economic Review, 97: September, 1507–28.

V. L. Bengtson and R. E. L. Roberts (1991), ‘Intergenerational solidarity in aging families: an example of formal theory construction’, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53: 4, 856–70.

M. Blekesaune and J. Quadagno (2003), ‘Public attitudes toward welfare state policies: a comparative analysis of 24 nations’, European Sociological Review, 19: 5, 415–27.

C. Boix (1997), ‘Political parties and the supply side of the economy: the provision of physical and human capital in advanced economies, 1960–1990’, American Journal of Political Science, 41: 3, 814–45.

C. Bolzendahl and S. Olafsdottir (2008), ‘Gender group interest or gender ideology? Understanding US support for family policy within the liberal welfare regime’, Sociological Perspectives, 51: 2, 281304.

G. Bonoli (2005), ‘The politics of new social policies: providing coverage against new social risks in mature welfare states’, Policy & Politics, 33: 3, 431–9.

C. Brooks and J. Manza (2007), Why Welfare States Persist: The Importance of Public Opinion in Democracies, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

M. R. Busemeyer , A. Goerres and S. Weschle (2009), ‘Demands for redistributive policies in an era of demographic aging: the rival pressures from age and income in 14 OECD countries’, Journal of European Social Policy, 19: 3, 195212.

R. Crompton , M. Brockmann and C. Lyonette (2005), ‘Attitudes, women's employment and the domestic division of labour: a cross-national analysis in two waves’, Work, Employment and Society, 19: 2, 213–33.

S. O. Daatland (2001), ‘Ageing, families and welfare systems: comparative perspectives’, Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 34: 1, 1620.

S. O. Daatland and A. Lowenstein (2005), ‘Intergenerational solidarity and the family-welfare state balance’, European Journal of Ageing, 2: 174–82.

T. Ferrarini and O. Sjöberg (2010), ‘Social policy institutions and health outcomes: transition countries in comparative perspective’, International Journal of Social Welfare, 19: S1, S60S88.

A. Gaulthier (2007), ‘The impact of family policies on fertility in industrialized countries: a review of the literature’, Population Research and Policy Review, 26: 3, 323–46.

A. Goerres (2009), ‘Die Einstellungen zu umverteilender Politik von einer starken Generation: die Babyboomer in Großbritannien und Westdeutschland im Vergleich’, Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 19: 2, 205–35.

K. Hank and M. Kreyenfeld (2003), ‘A multilevel analysis of child care and women's fertility decisions in Western Germany’, Journal of Marriage and Family, 65: 3, 584–96.

A. Henninger , C. Wimbauer and R. Dombrowski (2008), ‘Demography as a push towards gender equality? Current reforms of German family policy’, Social Politics, 15: 3, 287314.

M. M. Jaeger (2006), ‘Welfare regimes and attitudes towards redistribution: the regime hypothesis revisited’, European Sociological Review, 22: 2, 157–70.

M. M. Jaeger (2009), ‘United but divided: welfare regimes and the level and variance in public support for redistribution’, European Sociological Review, 25: 6, 723–37.

C. Jensen (2009), ‘Institutions and the politics of childcare services’, Journal of European Social Policy, 19: 1, 718.

W. Korpi (2000), ‘Faces of inequality: gender, class, and patterns of inequalities in different types of welfare states’, Social Politics, 7: 127–91.

J. Lewis , T. Knijn , C. Martin and I. Ostner (2008), ‘Patterns of development in work/family reconciliation policies for parents in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK in the 2000s’, Social Politics, 15: 3, 261–86.

N. Morel (2007), ‘From subsidiarity to “free choice”: child- and elder-care policy reforms in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands’, Social Policy and Administration, 41: 6, 618–37.

P. Rehm (2009), ‘Risks and redistribution: an individual-level analysis’, Comparative Political Studies, 42: 7, 855–81.

E. Roller (1992), Einstellungen der Bürger zum Wohlfahrtsstaat in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

E. Roller (1999), ‘Shrinking the welfare state: citizens’ attitudes towards cuts in social spending in Germany in the 1990s’, German Politics, 8: 1, 2139.

S. Svallfors (1997), ‘Worlds of welfare and attitudes to redistribution: a comparison of eight western nations’, European Sociological Review, 13: 3, 283304.

M. Tepe and P. Vanhuysse (2010), ‘Elderly bias, new social risks, and social spending: change and timing in eight programs across four worlds of welfare, 1980–2003’, Journal of European Social Policy, 20: 3, 218–34.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Appendix

Goerres Supplementary Appendix
Goerres Supplementary Appendix

 Word (78 KB)
78 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 46 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 226 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.