Most parents don’t want universal childcare

There are a lot of drawbacks to universal childcare as our research has shown. Increased funding tends to drive up costs and comes with too much regulatory burden, driving out providers. Additionally, universal childcare has potential negative social consequences due to children being in outside care for an extended period of time.

But aside from the reasons mentioned above, there is also another reason why universal childcare is not popular. Surveys show that parents generally prefer a parenting system whereby one parent stays home and provides childcare. A February 2021 poll by American Compass has evidence for this. According to the results, parent surveyed

…overwhelmingly prefer to have one parent work fulltime and one provide childcare at home. Both parents working fulltime and using paid childcare was the least popular choice for lower-income respondents (those with “less than a 4-year degree and household income below $30,000”) and second to last for the working class (“less than a 4-year degree and household income $30,000–$70,000”). The middle class has mixed opinions, and only the upper class (“household income above $150,000”) favors having both parents in the workforce.

It is quet possible that some of these choices are due to financial constraints, but then again poll respondents are not keen on subsisides either. They prefer solutions that leaves freedom intact for parents to raise their kids whatever way they see fit.

It is clear that undertaking universal childcare would nudge parents into using outside childcare in cases where it’s not preferable or unlikely. Considering the high cost of providing universal child care and other drawbacks associated with such policy, it is best solutions aimed at solving the childcare crisis focus on loosening excessive regulation that drives up cost and restricts supply.