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Politics of Childcare Policy beyond the Left-Right Scale: Postindustrialisation, Transformation of Party Systems, and Welfare State Restructuring

Takeshi Hieda
Osaka City University, Japan
Takeshi Hieda
Osaka City University, Japan
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper explores whether partisan differences have had an impact on the recent expansion of public childcare expenditures. It argues that political parties contend with each other over human capital investment and female labor force participation policy on the social-value dimension as well as the redistributive dimension, and that each political party has different policy preferences and strategies for women''s employment and childcare policy according to its position on the two-dimensional party competition space. That is, a left–libertarian party prefers activation, a left–authoritarian party dualism, a right–libertarian party workfare, and a right–authoritarian party dualism or workfare. Out of these three strategies, only activation is favorable to the expansion of public childcare expenditures. Assuming that different party policies have distinct impact on public childcare policy, this study hypothesizes that a government policy position—composed of the governing parties'' policy position—and its policy distance among them on the two-dimensional policy space affect changes in public spending for childcare services. Through analysis of the pooled time-series-and-cross-section data of 18 OECD countries from 1980 until 2005 using multivariate regression methods, this paper reveals that a government left–right policy position interacts with its libertarian–authoritarian policy position, and that a left–libertarian government raises its budget for childcare services while a left–authoritarian government does not. In addition, this paper also demonstrates that heterogeneous policy preferences among veto players in the two-dimensional policy space impede the expansion of public spending for childcare services.