Dutch use childcare more than other EU countries

According to figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), three-quarters of Dutch children under the age of 3 went to some form of childcare in 2014. This means Dutch parents take their young children to child day-care centres, playgroups and other forms of childcare more than any other country in the EU.

Across the European Union, half of all children under 3 years of age are looked after in childcare centres, with large differences between countries. In 2014, relatively more west European than east European children went to childcare centres. Seventy-seven percent of Dutch children received day care, compared with 27 percent of Bulgarian children.

Denmark front-runner in formal childcare

In Denmark, 70 percent of the youngest children were in some form of formal childcare <toelichting> in 2014. In Sweden and Norway this was the case for 50 percent of children. Most parents in eastern Europe make use of other – informal - childcare options. In most other countries, neither form is predominant, and parents use formal and informal options alongside each other. In the Netherlands, 45 percent of under-3s went to a day care centre or playgroup, and 64 percent were looked after (or also looked after) by relatives, child-minders or a nanny.

Use of childcare for children below age 3, 2014
Use of childcare for children below age 3, 2014
 FormalFormal and other typesOther typesNo childcare
Netherlands13323223
Portugal31142827
Denmark700030
Switzerland17173531
Cyprus1694332
Iceland31122532
Luxembourg36131635
Greece765037
Belgium36131239
Slovenia17202439
France30101941
Norway532441
Sweden561142
UK15142447
Spain3431449
EU2082250
Italy13102750
Ireland2162251
Romania204355
Austria882757
Estonia1362259
Lithuania1851859
Czech Rep.223660
Poland513460
Malta1262161
Germany2441062
Finland330463
Croatia1071865
Hungary951868
Slovakia432568
Latvia157870
Bulgaria1101673

Dutch children spend relatively few hours in child care

Most countries where many children are taken to day care are countries where parents are more likely to work part-time. Not only do more people in the Netherlands and other west European countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Austria work part-time, but a relatively small percentage of children in these countries spend 30 hours or more a week in formal day care. Most east European children in formal childcare spend the whole week there.