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

Marina Sofie Lundkvist, Josefine Nyby, Janne Autto, Mikael Nygård

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Universal public childcare for children under sevenhas been central in Finland since the mid-1990s, capacitating both genderequality and children’s human capital and wellbeing. In 2015, as a further stepin the development of this system, early learning and childhood pedagogy wasstrengthened through the early childhood education and care reform (statute 580/2015).Some months later, however, the right to full-day ECEC was restricted tochildren with employed parents (statute 108/2016). This paper discusses thesetwo reforms by analysing theirobjectives, framing and ideational drivers on the basis of government bills andparliamentary debates. We argue that the idea of austerity has superseded theidea of investments in the child’s human capital and development. There is alsoa shift from universalism to a stronger accentuation of conditionality. Webelieve the reforms will have negativeeffects on the quality of ECEC and increase inequalities in children’s humancapital and learning.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1543–1556
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Finland
  • welfare state reform
  • Childcare

Cite this