ERC Starting grant for Tom Emery for research on childcare and inequality

Problemen met kinderopvang

Social scientist Dr. Tom Emery of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and deputy director of ODISSEI has been awarded the prestigious starting grant of 1.5 million by the European Research Council (ERC) for his research project on identifying barriers to the use of formal childcare by the low-educated.

Quality childcare significantly improves outcomes in later life. Yet access to and use of childcare is unevenly distributed. This leads to greater inequality in later life outcomes. Research has shown that childcare's cost, location, and quality affect its use, but policy solutions aimed at removing these barriers have not reduced inequality in use.

Spreading the use of formal childcare

Tom Emery's project is highly interdisciplinary, combining theories and methods from demography, sociology, economics, network analysis and social policy. He investigates how the use of formal childcare is spread across low-income populations. He uses new research methods and linked data files to analyse why some childcare arrangements of households do not distribute to low-income households. The research results are intended for policymakers responsible for early childhood education at the OECD, the European Commission, and national and regional governments. The research will help them change policy practice on the use of formal childcare to enable its use through the appropriate dissemination of new childcare arrangements to the population.

Tom Emery: "The project will use state of the art, secure high performance computing facilities through ODISSEI to examine childcare arrangements amongst parents of young children. The big innovation in this project is that we not only look at how a couple arranges their own childcare, but we see how that is influenced by their neighbours, colleagues, and family members' own childcare arrangements. This type of analysis wasn't possible until very recently as it requires a lot of computing power and very high-quality data that are only available through the integrated infrastructure provided by ODISSEI".


ODISSEI (Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations) is the national research infrastructure for the social sciences in the Netherlands. ODISSEI brings together researchers with the necessary data, expertise and resources to conduct ground-breaking research and embrace the computational turn in social enquiry. Through ODISSEI, researchers have access to large-scale, longitudinal data collections as well as innovative and diverse new forms of data

About the ERC Starting Grants

With the ERC Starting Grants, the European Union aims to support talented research leaders in establishing their independent research team. The Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences has successfully obtained ERC grants. In recent years, Prof Renske Keizer, Dr Rianne Kok and Prof Willem Schinkel preceded him with a Starting grant. In 2012 sociologist Pearl Dykstra received an Advanced Grant, and in 2020 professor Claartje ter Hoeven received the Consolidator Grant.

About Tom Emery

Dr. Tom Emery received his PhD in social sciences from the University of Edinburgh in 2014. In 2015, he joined Erasmus University as a post-doc on the project 'Family Dynamics and the Lifecourse in Comparative Perspective' investigating differences in family dynamics in later life in Europe, China and the USA. Since 2017, he has been University Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of OIDSSEI.

Associate professor
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Marjolein Kooistra, press officer ESSB, | + 31 6 83676038

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