According to figures released by Statistics Netherlands, fewer and fewer Dutch children attend formal child care facilities. The number declined by 72 thousand children between 2012 and 2014. Although allowance regulations were extended in 2014, the number of children for which the Dutch tax authorities paid child care allowance was the lowest since 2009.
Among Dutch municipalities with at least 1,000 children the decline was sharpest in Westervoort, Edam-Volendam, Rijnwaarden and Enkhuizen.
Sharpest decline in attendance day care
In 2014, 754,400 Dutch children were eligible for an allowance, against 826,500 in 2012. As a result of changing regulations, figures over 2014 are more difficult to compare with those over 2013.
The decline was most significant in day care, where 50 thousand fewer children were enrolled in 2014, a decline of 11 percent. In the same period, child care before and after school (‘BSO’) declined by 6 percent. This means that in 2014, the total number of children was divided equally over the two types of child care service.
Less demand for child care due to changed allowance in 2013
The fall in demand for formal child care is related to a number of developments. The number of children in the Netherlands dropped by 2.5 percent between 2012 and 2014. Demand fell as well during the economic crisis as a result of growing unemployment.
Austerity measures in child care allowances, which were most extensive in 2012 and 2013, also played a role. This led to a decline in the number of child care allowance recipients in 2013. In 2014, allowance regulations were extended again, especially for middle- to high-income families. Nevertheless, the number of children for whom child care allowance was paid, dropped to the lowest point since 2009. The demand for formal child care had risen sharply until that year, after the employer’s contribution was made compulsory in 2007.
Between 2012 and 2014, the number of children attending formal child care facilities declined by 9 percent. The decline in the ratio of children, i.e. adjusted for the total number of children in the Netherlands, was 6.5 percent.
Children turning four between 2012 and 2014 who were transferred from day care to after school care were included in both types of child care. This explains why the sum of children in day care and after school care is higher than the total number. That number is based on individual children attending child care facilities.
Few children in formal child care in Urk
In 2014, nearly 31% of children up to 12 attended child care. The percentage was between 25 and 35 percent in western and eastern parts of the Netherlands. Percentages were even higher in certain areas at the heart of the country, around The Hague, in the southeast of North Brabant and in the north.
On the other hand, demand was particularly lower in a strip diagonally across the Netherlands from Goeree-Overflakkee to southwest Overijssel (15-25 percent), although the labour participation of women in these areas was not lower than elsewhere.
Demand was lower as well in the north east and south east of the country, where labour participation and incomes were below average.
The ratio of children in formal child care is lowest in Urk (7 percent), followed by Ameland (10 percent).
Half of all municipalities see a distinct drop in child care services
In more than half of all Dutch municipalities, the share of children in child care dropped by more than 5 percent between 2012 and 2014. Among the municipalities with more than 1,000 children, the drop was most significant in Westervoort, Edam-Volendam, Rijnwaarden and Enkhuizen (over 20 percent).
Increases of more than 5 percent were seen in 28 Dutch municipalities, the highest being in Oldebroek (35 percent), followed by Scherpenzeel (22 percent).