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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.

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