Family care arrangements and policy needs of preschool children in China: an analysis based on multiple data sources

WU Fan1 WANG Lin2

(1.Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Nankai University)
(2.Department of Sociology, Nankai University)
【Knowledge Link】maternity leave; paternity leave

【Abstract】Based on multiple survey data, the paper analyzes the situations and characteristics of family care arrangements for children aged 0–5 in China. Conducted by different organizations between 2010 and 2014, the multiple surveys show high childcare deficits, heavy burdens of mothers, imbalanced responsibility between motherhood and fatherhood, and a high proportion of childcare by grandparents. These problems not only directly affect the healthy growth of children, women’s employment and development, and the quality of family life, but also affect the implementation of the two-child policy. One of the key reasons of these problems is the lack of institutional support for childcare, particularly the shortage of formal care for children under 3 years old. “Work-family” balance has become a universal and rigid social need. From a macro point of view, childcare is a necessary condition for population reproduction. From the perspective of family policy, it is necessary to extend the paternity leave and parental leave, to develop formal care services for children aged 0–3, and to promote the balance between work and family for childcare givers.

【Keywords】 childcare; family care; formal care; family policy;


【Funds】 Key Project of the National Social Science Fund of China (17ARK004) Key Project of the Humanity and Social Sciences Key Research Base of the Ministry of Education (16JJD840013)

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(Translated by LI Meiling)


    [1]. ① Excluding data from Australia, Iceland, the Republic of Korea and Sweden. [^Back]

    [2]. ① The few survey data specifically regarding the childcare services of children aged 0–3 are not publicly available. [^Back]

    [3]. ① Excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. [^Back]

    [4]. ② Excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Hainan. [^Back]

    [5]. ③ The 12 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) are: Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. [^Back]

    [6]. ① In the 2014 Families Practicing Family-planning Development Survey, the option of kindergarten/nursery is not included in options to the questions with respect to the daily life care of children. However, there are other questions directly asking whether the child attends kindergarten/nursery. Meanwhile, all the other three surveys have included the option of official childcare institutions (nursery institutions) in the question regarding the caregivers of daily life care. [^Back]

    [7]. ② The first-ranking child is the child with the earliest personal coding when there are more than one pre-school children in a family. The first-ranking child is not necessarily the oldest pre-school child in the family. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 11-1489/C

Vol 41, No. 06, Pages 71-83

November 2017


Article Outline



  • 1 The reason for this study: the predicament of family care of pre-school children aged 0–5
  • 2 The major content of multiple survey data and childcare surveys
  • 3 The status quo and characteristics of the family care of children aged 0–5
  • 4 Major issues of social childcare supply and policy arrangements
  • 5 Family policy reform to support childcare
  • Footnote