“Who should pay? Who should provide? American Childcare Preferences in Comparative Perspective” with Sophie Jacobson, Yale
AMERICAN POLITICS & PUBLIC POLICY WORKSHOP
Abstract: Despite rising academic interest in inequality and immobility, we know remarkably little about the character of child welfare across the advanced democracies, let alone the politics underlying considerable variation in the quality and quantity of social provision for children. Focusing on the American case to develop tractable propositions, I argue that family income and social risk shape beliefs about childcare along much the same lines as the demand for redistribution in general. My conceptual framework links the distribution of income and prevalence of poverty across family-types to individual and aggregate preferences for alternative childcare arrangements. Using a new battery of questions from the 2012 ISSP Family and Changing Gender Roles IV survey, I find that American support for childcare policy is systematically self-interested, and distorted by social bias. Placed in comparative perspective, the micropolitics of marriage in the United States provide traction on macroeconomic contexts giving rise to mass support for private approaches to childcare, while calling attention to straightforward ways in which social beliefs about responsibility for the wellbeing of children might be implicated in the various rise of economic inequality throughout the OECD.
Sophie Jacobson is a third-year PhD student focusing on American social policy and the politics of inequality, from a comparative perspective. Her research blends political economy with historical institutionalist and ethnographic approaches toward unpacking the politics of social provision. Sophie is particularly interested in the intersection of economic, gender and racial inequalities within the United States, and the politics of child poverty more broadly.