Early Education and Care in Post-Soviet Russia: Social Policy and Inequality Patterns
This chapter explores changes in the relationship between social inequality and the use of childcare arrangements in Russia between 1994 and 2012. These changes are evaluated against changes in the context surrounding the system of childcare provision throughout the post-Soviet period. In particular, we consider the following changes: increasing household competition for state-subsidized childcare provision and its differentiation, the adoption of neo-familialist social policies in the 2000s, and the growing relevance of informal relations in securing access to formal childcare services. To empirically investigate the changes in the use of childcare arrangements by different types of families we rely on data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (1994–2012). We find that families with higher social standing are more likely to participate in formal public childcare, although inequality in access has slightly decreased in the 2000s. On the other hand, inequality increased with regard to expenditure on external childcare, which suggests that more advantaged families switched to different forms of childcare. This is partly corroborated by the fact that these families use formal public childcare less intensively, possibly by exposing their children to other types of childcare. Social inequalities also exist in informal childcare arrangements; whereas more advantaged families generally make wider use of these arrangements, they are less likely to limit themselves to exclusive parental care, which is more widely spread in the less advantaged families. The patterns of informal childcare remained largely unchanged throughout the period considered.