Almost one million mothers are unable to work due to childcare costs
Almost a million stay-at-home mothers in England want to work but are unable to due to lack of childcare options, says a report by Save the Children.
“Women’s labor force participation has rapidly increased in most countries, but mothers still struggle to achieve a satisfactory work–life balance,” writes Daniela Vuri in her article Do childcare policies increase maternal employment?
Save the Children says around half of all out-of-work mothers (870,000) would return to the workplace if they could arrange convenient, reliable, and affordable childcare places.
Based on UK government figures, childcare issues cost mothers of under-fives a total £3.4 million in lost earnings, the report said.
Last year the government introduced its program of 30 hours of free childcare for some working parents. However, Steven McIntosh, save the Children’s Director of UK Poverty Policy, said more needs to be done to help parents.
“The government has made important reforms to improve the childcare system for families,” he said. “But we still know the average family will still be paying around £8,000 even after the free hours the government has introduced for childcare.”
However, the evidence on subsidized childcare is mixed, says Vuri. “The effectiveness of childcare policies might be dampened in countries with already high female labor market participation, generous subsidized childcare, easy access to pre-school, a strong social safety net, and/or deeply rooted traditional values.”
“In some cases, a subsidy might encourage some mothers to enter the labor force but not others. In other cases, it might only encourage women to switch from informal to formal care.”
Vuri suggests that “Their best option might be to introduce policies that target the population for which childcare costs and availability pose the most significant barriers to entering the labor force.”
Read further articles on childcare and maternal employment.