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Why do Swedes use less cash-for-childcare than Norwegians?

Julia Höppner (Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Universitat Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 13 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explain the rather large difference in the take-up of the cash-for-childcare (CFC) benefit between Norway and Sweden.


A quantitative approach is employed, including the analysis of descriptive statistics of data on parents’ attitudes concerning the distribution of paid work and care and a robust regression analysis of data on parents’ behaviour regarding the distribution of paid work and care.


The results show that attitudes regarding childcare and mothers’ and fathers’ employment differ in the two countries. Swedish parents support public childcare and a gender equal employment distribution more than Norwegians. Thereby, attitudinal differences explain why Norwegian parents use the benefit more frequently. The findings indicate that in Sweden, parents’ socioeconomic background affects the duration of public childcare to a lesser extent than in Norway. Nevertheless, the economic incentives of the CFC benefit are more attractive for families with lower socioeconomic status. This explains why Swedes respond less to the incentives of the CFC benefit than Norwegians.


While previous research has focussed on the effect of policies on the take-up of the CFC benefit, this study shows that parents’ attitudes and behaviour are important explanatory variables to explain differences in the take-up of the benefit.



The author is grateful to Andrea Schäfer, Karl Hinrichs and Patricia Frericks for their help and support during the process of writing this paper. Moreover, the author wants to thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.


Höppner, J. (2017), "Why do Swedes use less cash-for-childcare than Norwegians?", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 37 No. 5/6, pp. 327-340.



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