Doctoral thesis

Essays on the demand for child care services


116 p

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2011 (jury note: cum laude)

English In Switzerland, as in many developed countries, a growing number of parents face a pertinent challenge in trying to reconcile family and work commitments. Parents working full-time or part-time may purchase child care services (such as school-meal and after-school services) provided at school or by other professionals, while others directly provide personal care to their children until school age and reduce their participation to the labor market. Access to child care services represents a key issue and local governments play an important role in the market for child care services. The availability of child care services is not homogeneous across Swiss cantons and municipalities. Therefore, households may face some constraints in optimizing the allocation of time between work and family. To define effective policies to improve child care services and households choices, governments need information on households’ demand for different types of child care services. The main objective of this thesis is to investigate socioeconomic factors affecting the demand for child care services and households’ willingness to pay for these services. We address these issues by means of three different essays. In the first essay, we analyze preferences of Swiss families for child care facilities. A choice experiment is used to study the effects of the facilities’ characteristics as well as socioeconomic factors on hypothetically-selected child care modes. The experimental data are analyzed using a discrete choice model under different multinomial logit specifications. We correct for the selection bias due to households’ participation in the labor force. The second essay focuses on the demand for school-meals by Swiss families using a stated preferences approach. We collect data from number phone structured interviews. A Poisson model with random-effects is used to explore factors affecting the demand for school- meals. The third study investigates decisions of families living in the City of Lugano about the use of school-meal services and after-school services. Moreover, we analyze the willingness to pay for these services. Data on revealed and stated preferences from 906 households are collected by means of a questionnaire. Factors affecting households’ decisions are explored using Tobit, Heckman and Cragg models, which account for possible sample selection problems.
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