The Costs of Children

WP 7 – The Political Economy of the European Union

Lillestrøm, 24-25 February 2011


Venue: Thon Hotel Arena, Lillestrøm

Workshop summary (D79) (pdf)


Practical information

The workshop is coordinated by the Europe Institute at the University of Auckland and hosted by ARENA – Centre for European Studies at the University of Oslo.

The aim of the workshop is to explore the role and status of gender by investigating the aspect that has the greatest impact on the different roles of men and women: namely, the bearing and raising of children.

Family policies vary considerably across the European Union in two distinct ways: in how they affect levels of female employment and pay; and, in the degree to which they adhere to the principle of equality of treatment. The accession of former communist countries to the EU, which under socialism actively encouraged female labour force participation through extensive state-funded childcare, adds another perspective to debates about family policy and gender regimes. In contrast to the much-praised Nordic model of female-friendly childcare services, the closure of many state-run childcare centres and a reported ‘return’ to a male-breadwinner model in the new European democracies complicates any assumed links between gender equality and democratic values such as social justice and citizenship.

The workshop is organised as part of RECONs work package 7 on The Political Economy of the European Union but is also of direct interest to WP 4 on Justice, Democracy and Gender. Read more on the overall research objectives of RECON.


Deadline for the call for papers was 22 October 2010. The authors of accepted submission should submit complete papers for circulation by 21 January 2011


Programme (pdf)

Abstracts of accepted papers (pdf) 


Thursday 24 February 2011


Welcome by David Mayes, Europe Institute, University of Auckland

Social regimes and gender equality: childcare in the EU (pdf)
Mark Thomson, Europe Institute, University of Auckland

Childcare as a public good?


Chair: David Mayes

The care of young children in Scandinavia: parental responsibilities, rights and costs
Arnlaug Leira, University of Oslo

Discussant: Roza Vajda

11:00-11:15  Coffee break

Childcare provision in Hungary
Roza Vajda, Institute of Sociology, Eötvös Loránd University

Discussant: Cris Shore

A market for child care services? Private provision and public finance in the Dutch child care sector
Janneke Plantenga, Utrecht University

Discussant: Karoliina Majamaa




Alternative forms of childcare


Chair: Mark Thomson

Childcare as intergenerational support
Karoliina Majamaa, University of Helsinki

Discussant: Marilyn McHugh

15:00-15:15  Coffee break

Costs and consequences for carers of vulnerable children
Marilyn McHugh, University of New South Wales, Australia

Discussant: Janneke Plantenga 


Dinner at Ekeberg Restaurant, Oslo
Common transport from Thon Hotel Arena, Lillestrøm at 18:20


Friday 25 February 2011

Employment and childcare



Chair: Agustin Jose Menendez, University of Leon 

How do first-time lone mothers participate and stay in employment in the UK?
Shireen Kanji, University of Cambridge, UK

Discussant: Ineke Casier

The impact of childcare costs for Northern Irish females
Nora Smith and Rachel Dennison, Employers For Childcare Charitable Group, Lisburn, Northern Ireland

Discussant: Kirsten Scheiwe 

High-qualified women and the gendered division of domestic labour: an exploratory analysis in Photonics
Ineke Casier, RHEA – Centrum voor Gender en Diversiteit, Brussels

Discusssant: Anne Lise Ellingsæter




The future of family welfare: towards a more just and democratic society?


Chair: Cris Shore, University of Auckland

The Norwegian ‘fertility machine’
Anne Lise Ellingsæter, University of Oslo

Discussant: Shireen Kanji

The costs of caring for children before and after divorce: contradictory legal messages and gender
Kirsten Scheiwe, Hildesheim University

Discussant: Arnlaug Leira

15:00-15:15  Coffee break

The European social model: the Barcelona targets and beyond
Janneke Plantenga, Utrecht University

Discussant: Nora Smith


Concluding remarks and discussion: welfare policy in the EU and the RECON models


 Chair: David Mayes



For more information, please contact Mark Thomson (University of Auckland)