From universalism to selectivity? The background, discourses and ideas of recent early childhood education and care reforms in Finland

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Marina Lundkvist, Josefine Nyby, Janne Autto, Mikael Nygård
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Early Child Development and Care
Volume number: 187
Issue number: 10
Start page: 1543
End page: 1556
eISSN: 1476-8275


Universal public childcare for children under seven
has been central in Finland since the mid-1990s, capacitating both gender
equality and children’s human capital and wellbeing. In 2015, as a further step
in the development of this system, early learning and childhood pedagogy was
strengthened through the early childhood education and care reform (statute 580/2015).
Some months later, however, the right to full-day ECEC was restricted to
children with employed parents (statute 108/2016). This paper discusses these
two reforms by analysing their
objectives, framing and ideational drivers on the basis of government bills and
parliamentary debates. We argue that the idea of austerity has superseded the
idea of investments in the child’s human capital and development. There is also
a shift from universalism to a stronger accentuation of conditionality. We
believe the reforms will have negative
effects on the quality of ECEC and increase inequalities in children’s human
capital and learning.


Childcare, Finland, welfare state reform

Last updated on 2019-12-11 at 05:39