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7.6 Program for the Study of Germany and Europe

Recent Changes in European Welfare State Services: A Comparison of Child Care Politics in the U.K., Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands

1997 – Jet Bussemaker


This paper examines recent policies and politics of services, in particular child care services in European welfare states. It is argued that social (care) services are becoming an increasingly political issue in postindustrial societies and are at the very center of welfare-state restructuring. Some countries have recently developed new policy pro­ grams for child care-but there are important differences among these programs. To understand these differences as well as some common features, the paper argues that it is necessary to examine the institutional organization of child care and short-term political factors as well as the rationales articulated in political debates to support or im­ pede various policies. The paper concludes that a comprehensive system of child care provisions is still far off in most countries, despite a rhetoric of choice and postindustrial care and labor-market patterns.