Reconciling paid work and family responsibilities: The role of “service vouchers” in the Province of Trento
“Buoni di Servizio” is a programme implemented by the Province of Trento, co-founded by the European Social Fund, which sets up a ‘service voucher’ scheme aiming to help women reconcile paid work and family responsibilities. It has been introduced to ease the financial burden of eligible households and allow mothers to participate in labour market. More specifically, financial aid is offered in the form of a cash coupon that can be used to buy childcare services for minors with age up to 16 years old (18 for children with certified disabilities. IRVAPP research has been conducted with the goal to shed light on the effectiveness of the vouchers to promote women labor market participation, prevent women dropping out of labour market upon maternity leave and help women obtain more desirable employment conditions in terms of wages and possibility to work full-time. First research has been carried out using administrative data on beneficiaries and it argues that some of the eligibility rules of the programme may have been hindering positive policy impact in terms of work and family-life reconciliation, resulting in an ambiguous effect on female labor market participation. Upon the submission of the 2010 IRVAPP progress report, the Province of Trento in March 2011 has officially deliberated the change in eligibility rules, keeping the working women and not their spouses as the only possible beneficiaries of the policy. During the second phase of the project, IRVAPP has been monitoring the beneficiaries and integrating administrative data with data from other sources, in order to inform local policy makers about any revealed dynamics in labour market outcomes of voucher recipients induced by new eligibility rules.