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How childcare subsidies can reduce the gap between mothers’ and fathers’ career paths – for this generation and the next

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Turon, H.
Publication Date: 
4 Jul 2023


More than 80% of women in England and Wales will become mothers at some point during their working lives, according to OECD figures. Most of these women will have two children around two or three years apart, spending at least 20 years of their adult lives with a child under 18 and creating significant childcare needs for some of this time.

The current price of childcare is high, averaging £149 per week in Great Britain for 25 hours of care for a child under two years old. This represents about 60% of the minimum wage earnings of someone working part-time (around 25 hours per week), and 25% of the median full-time earnings for a woman in Great Britain.

Availability is also a problem. Only 57% of local authorities report having enough childcare places for children under the age of two.

Career breaks during motherhood are a major driver of the increase in the gender pay gap over the child-bearing years. Mothers’ earnings ten and even 20 years after the birth of a first child are about 20% lower than a similar childless woman. Fathers’ earnings over the same life stages do not show any evidence of these “child penalties”.