Linking Formal Child Care Characteristics to Children’s Socioemotional Well-Being: A Comparative Perspective

Melissa Verhoef, Anke C. Plagnol, Vanessa May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most research on formal child care and children’s outcomes has focused on single countries. We, however, contend that policy context may moderate the association between formal child care characteristics and children’s socioemotional well-being. We examined this by comparing the Netherlands, Finland and the UK; three countries that differ regarding family policies. Of these three countries, Finland was recently ranked highest (ranked 1st) with regards to quality of child care in a recent analysis by the Economist, followed by the UK (ranked 3rd) and then the Netherlands (ranked 7th). We hypothesized that children who attend child-care settings in countries with higher-quality formal child-care provision would generally show better socioemotional outcomes. Data from the comparative ‘Families 24/7’ survey were used, including 990 parents with children aged 0–12. We distinguished between two age groups in our analysis. Results indicated that, compared to the UK, longer hours in formal care were less beneficial in the Netherlands. Furthermore, spending time in formal care during nonstandard hours was more harmful for children in Finland compared to the UK. Lastly, receiving care from multiple caregivers was more disruptive for British children than for Dutch children. No differences were found between Finland and the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Early online date20 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • child-care arrangements
  • child well-being
  • parental employment
  • comparative research


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