Child care in Canada and Sweden: Policy and politics
An analysis of child care arrangements provides a window into the varying gender assumptions that underpin different welfare states. This paper examines policies affecting child care (both daycare and maternal or parental leave) in Sweden and Canada. Child care arrangements in the two countries differ in ways that the literature on welfare states leads one to expect. It would be a mistake, however, to stop here with the "liberal" Canadian and "social democratic" Swedish models frozen in time and space. Child care arrangements are historical products, and unfinished ones at that. In this paper I analyze the politics surrounding the development of postwar child care policies in Sweden and Canada. I argue that, although child care arrangements in the two countries appear to fit the models developed by theorists who focus on the relative strength and strategic capacity of national labor movements, feminists, organizing in ways appropriate to the political conditions in which they found themselves, had an important role to play. The final part of the paper examines the contemporary developments in both countries.