The main purpose of this technical brief is to investigate the comparability between two early childhood education and care indicators currently used by the European Commission – namely the Barcelona target and the ET 2020 ECEC benchmark – and to identify methodological differences and common traits that may have implications in their use for policy-making.
Results show that, despite being potentially similar measures of participation of children in early childhood education and care in the different countries, they are essentially different in their nature as they cover different groups of individuals. Additionally, the fact that they use different datasets, namely administrative data from UOE and survey data from EU-SILC, implies that they follow diverse data collection protocols; in particular, the use of EU-SILC survey data brings the risk of not having a fully representative sample of the children population; and exposes data to respondent and interviewer’s biases, which further contributes to the existing differences between them. Notwithstanding, results provided in the brief suggest that the different age composition of the two indicators could explain a consistent part of the difference in the overall shares; in the majority of countries, for age groups 4 and 5, numbers are quite similar. Thus, while still taking into account all the caveats explained in this document, we could conclude that for these age groups results could be equally used for policy support. Some suggestions for the improvement of the Barcelona target sub-indicator for the ET 2020 ECEC benchmark within the Joint Assessment Framework are also proposed.