This study investigates the relationship between locally available quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions and the probability of maternal employment, use of formal and informal care arrangements. By considering several indicators of structural quality we extend the existing literature which has mostly focused on the importance of availability or costs of ECEC services for maternal work-care choices during the early years. We investigate the relationships with formal and informal care use, which mostly have been examined in two separate strands of the literature. Furthermore, we provide differentiated analyses for mothers with children aged under three and from three to school age, for East and West Germany, and for partnered and single mothers.
The empirical analysis is based on the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and on the "Families in Germany"-Study (FiD) for 2010 and 2011, which are linked with regional data on structural quality from German youth and welfare offices in 2010. We use probit regression models of maternal employment, use of formal and informal care, respectively. These components of maternal work-care decisions are interdependent and may be influenced by common unobserved factors. Therefore, the error terms between the probit regressions are allowed to correlate in a framework of seemingly unrelated estimations. Our results show negative associations of local child-teacher-ratios with maternal (full-time) employment and (full-day) formal ECEC use in several subgroups. The effects are stronger for single mothers compared to those with a partner and stronger in West Germany than in East Germany. Other structural quality indicators, such as group size and teacher education, are not significantly related to or show counterintuitive associations with maternal work-care arrangements.