Bringing It All Back Home. Social Class and Educational Stratification of Childcare in Britain, 1961-2015

Giacomo Vagni

childcare; education; stratification; social class; polarisation

Childcare is one of the foundations of human development. An unequal distribution of childcare is an unequal distribution of life chances. This paper investigates the social stratification of parental childcare in the United Kingdom, focusing on class and education, from 1961 to 2015. The study shows that both mothers and fathers have increased their time spent on childcare, with a significant uptick between 1974 and 1983. I find a growing gap in childcare time between mothers with and those without a higher education degree. Regarding social class, the gap in childcare time between professional-class and working-class households has remained relatively constant throughout the period. The paper also explores fathers' involvement in childcare and shows that their childcare time is less stratified compared to mothers. The article discusses the potential mechanisms that could explain the polarisation of childcare in the UK.