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
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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.

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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.

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Education and SkillsEquity, Diversity and Inclusion
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