In 2020, more than half (53.4 %) of all the children aged less than three years in the EU were cared for exclusively by their parents, a 13.4 % increase compared with 2019. On the other hand, almost one third (32.3 %) of children aged less than 3 were in formal care for at least one hour per week (-8.5 % compared with 2019), and one fifth (20.9 %) were cared for by their grandparents, other relatives or professional childminders for at least one hour per week (-19.3 % compared with 2019).
These changes reflect the impact of COVID-19 measures adopted by the EU Member States to control the spread of the virus.
The share of children under three years of age cared for by only their parents varied considerably across the EU Member States, from a low of 21.9 % in the Netherlands and Portugal, and 29.1 % in Denmark, up to over 65.0% in Czechia (66.3 %), Lithuania (69.5 %) and Bulgaria (71.8 %), reaching its peak in Germany with 80.2%.
Almost one-third of children aged less than 3 is in formal childcare
When children are not cared for exclusively by their parents, they may receive formal childcare, such as daycare centres or preschool.
Almost one-third of children (32.3%) in the EU were enrolled in formal childcare for at least one hour per week, 60% of them for more than 30h per week and the rest 40% for less than 30h per week.
Among the EU Member States, Denmark recorded the highest share of children receiving at least one hour of formal childcare per week with two-thirds (67.7%), followed by the Netherlands (67.6%), Luxembourg (63.2%) and France (57.2%).
At the other end of the scale, the lowest share of children receiving formal childcare was found in Czechia and Slovakia (4.8 %), followed by Romania (6.8 %), Hungary (10.5 %) and Poland (11.2 %).
Around one-fifth of children aged less than 3 received other types of care
Other types of childcare include care by a professional childminder or by grandparents, other household members (excluding parents), other relatives, friends or neighbours. Just 5.8 % of children under the age of three in the EU were in this type of care for a minimum of 30 hours per week, and an additional 15.1% of children for less than 30h per week.
For more information:
- Statistics Explained article on living conditions in Europe – childcare arrangements
- Dedicated section on income, social inclusion and living conditions
- Database on income and living conditions (ilc)
- Formal childcare is defined here as regulated childcare provided away from the child’s home.
- The shares do not add up to exactly 100% because parents might use different types of childcare arrangements