UCL Department of Economics


Universal childcare: The potential to level the playing field between the rich and poor

11 June 2018

Many countries operate universal childcare programmes that are open to all pre-school age children.

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Thomas Cornelissen, Christian Dustmann, Anna Raute, Uta Schönberg

This column analyses data from Germany to show that attending universal childcare at age three improves the school readiness of children from immigrant and disadvantaged family backgrounds far more than of children whose parents have higher socioeconomic status. Yet despite this potential to level the playing field between rich and poor, children who would gain the most from attending childcare early are also those who are least likely to attend. This calls for policies to encourage the enrolment of disadvantaged children in such programmes.

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