Migrant-native differentials in the uptake of (in)formal childcare in Belgium: The role of mothers’ employment opportunities and care availability





formal childcare, informal care, migrants, Belgium


Objective: we explore migrant-native differentials in the uptake of formal and informal childcare and whether this is induced by lower demand for childcare versus differential access to (in)formal childcare compared to natives.

Background: The rise in female labour market participation in recent decades has challenged parents to negotiate work and family responsibilities and organise childcare. Belgium is among the European countries with the highest availability of formal childcare, but maternal employment and uptake of childcare are substantially lower in migrant populations.

Methods: Combining linked microdata from the 1991 and 2001 censuses with contextual data on childcare availability at the municipality level, we use multinomial logit models to study childcare use and type of childcare arrangement among parents having a young child in 2001. As access to childcare and maternal employment are mutually endogenous, we use estimated employment opportunities.

Results: We find considerable migrant-native differentials in childcare use, as well as substantial differences between first and second generation migrants. Second generation mothers of Turkish, Moroccan and Eastern-European background are less likely than natives to use childcare, and more likely to rely on informal arrangements if childcare is used. Controlling for socio-demographic characteristics and differential availability of (in)formal childcare largely accounts for differences in childcare use, but Turkish and Moroccan women remain less likely to use care and first generation Turkish mothers remain more likely to use informal care as opposed to formal childcare.

Conclusions: While differences in socio-demographic characteristics, labour market opportunities and availability of (in)formal care provide a partial explanation, partial migrant-native differentials in childcare use persist for specific groups, suggesting that other factors inhibit the uptake of formal childcare.




How to Cite

Biegel, N., Wood, J., & Neels, K. . (2021). Migrant-native differentials in the uptake of (in)formal childcare in Belgium: The role of mothers’ employment opportunities and care availability. Journal of Family Research, 33(2), 467–508. https://doi.org/10.20377/jfr-463