Education and Skills

These countries have the most expensive childcare

The wardrobe of one of four groups is seen inside the Kathinka-Platzhoff-Stiftung Kindergarten (Kathinka-Platzhoff-foundation kindergarden) in Hanau, 30km (18 miles) south of Frankfurt, July 16, 2013. From August 1, 2013, all children in Germany between the age of 1 and 3 will have a legal entitlement to a place at a kindergarten. The Kindergarten of the Kathinka-Platzhoff-Stiftung is one of few which hosts children between the age of six month and six years.  Picture taken July 16. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT SOCIETY EDUCATION) - BM2E97G13UD01

Some countries use subsidies to reduce the cost of childcare. Image: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Education and Skills?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Gender Inequality is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Gender Inequality

Childcare costs make up a significant proportion of many working parents’ outgoings. But how much you pay can vary considerably depending on where you live.

Access to affordable, high-quality childcare can be one of the main things that determine whether working mothers continue their careers. While there is little definitive data on the number of men who take on the role of primary caregiver to their children, in all but a few countries women are far more likely to stay at home, work part-time or put their careers on hold.

This is just one factor that feeds into the gender equality gap.

The OECD has looked into the costs of childcare around the world and found some wide-ranging differences in how much people pay.

How the cost of childcare varies across the globe. Image: OECD

The most expensive country is New Zealand. Based on 2017/18 data, a couple with two young children earning the average wage have to devote 37.3% of their pay to childcare. There are only three other countries where more than 30% of a couple’s average salary earnings go toward childcare: Australia (31.1%), the US (33.2%) and the UK (35.7%).

At the other end of the scale, a couple in the Czech Republic earning the average salary are only paying out 2.6%, and in South Korea it’s just 3%. The OECD average is 14.5%. Both countries operate a system of public subsidies to support early-years education and childcare facilities.

Have you read?

In the Czech Republic, the Nursery and Basic School Capacity Development fund offers support to childcare providers that ranges from around $900,000 to $1.35 million.

Although childcare costs in South Korea were meant to be eliminated under a plan introduced in 2013, only 11.8% of Korean households contribute nothing toward childcare. Between 2013 and 2016, the Seoul government spent $7.74 billion on state aid for childcare, but many parents still seek some, or all, of their needs from the private sector.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Education and SkillsEquity, Diversity and Inclusion
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Bringing back curiosity: How digital tools can help us rethink education

Rahmin Bender-Salazar, Breanne Pitt and Christian Roth

June 13, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum