The rising cost of childcare in the US is not only taking a toll on a mother’s career but is crippling the families financially while causing immense stress on them.
The USA is one of the most progressive countries in the world, but sadly if the rate of full-time employed women is compared with other developed countries, it lags far behind. Though a rise in the women labor force could be seen in the year 2000, it has declined drastically in the last few years. However, this is not the scenario in other developed nations.
According to the report published by OECD ,
“Historically, the United States showed leadership in bringing women into the workforce. In 1990, the United States ranked 7th out of 24 current OECD countries reporting prime-age female labor force participation, about eight percentage points higher than the average of that sample. But since the late 1990s, women’s labor force participation plateaued and even started to drift down in the United States while continuing to rise in other high-income countries. As a result, in the year 2013 the United States ranked 19th out of those same 24 countries, falling six percentage points behind the United Kingdom and three percentage points below the sample average.”
What is the cause behind this decline? If we dig down, we will find that one of the primary reasons is the cost of daycare. The price is so high that mothers either cannot afford to leave their child at daycare or they do not find the income sufficing the expense. Yes, some mothers opt not to go for a full-time job and prefer spending their time with their growing-up kids. But, the decision that many others take is not a choice that they make happily. According to a survey conducted in 2012, approximately 68% of the mothers were willing to work full time, but they couldn’t afford to.
There have been a lot of discussions around the fact that a decline in women labor is the result of the lack of policies for new parents. However, according to a journal on Economic Perspective, published by Claudia Olivetti and Barbara Petrongolo, one of the most significant contributors towards enhancing the women’s participation in the job market depends on the reasonably priced, dependable childcare, and not merely on the policies including flexible working hours or maternity leaves.
How this entire situation affects the economy at the macro level and the GDP of the country is a different topic altogether; the fact which cannot be ignored at the micro level is how motherhood is putting a restriction on women’s choice and their freedom to choose between career and family. Men have started realizing that bringing up a child is not only a mother’s job and they are encouraging the women of the family to work. Thanks to the cost of living, they know that to maintain a stable family, a second income is necessary.
Nevertheless, it is high time, that the policy designers also start realizing the role of child care and take steps to implement policies in favor of the middle-class parents.