Diverse family leave and day care policies create varying monetary incentives for mothers to stay at home with their children. They also affect attitudes of mothers and this should influence childcare decisions. In this study, attitudes of mothers towards cutting down on paid work for the sake of family as well as their behaviour regarding childcare at home were studied in 12 European countries. Of special interest were Denmark, Finland and Sweden, three Nordic countries with a long tradition of childcare policies supporting mothers’ work participation. The data is based on the European Social Survey (ESS) Round 2, conducted in 2004 and 2005. The least familialistic attitudes were found in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. A coarse indicator for the effectiveness of childcare policy was devised and indicated that attitudes correlated with the policies in several countries. No correspondence was found between attitudes and average times spent with children at home. Regarding the Nordic countries (particularly Sweden and Finland), the contradictions observed were consistent with childcare policies that affect short- and long-term behaviour in opposite directions. In Finland, a familialistic attitude was relatively common among mothers whose youngest child was under 1-year-old
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