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A lifetime’s worth of benefits: The effects of affordable, high-quality child care on family income, the gender earnings gap, and women’s retirement security

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Hartley, R.P.; Chaudry, A.; Boteach, M.; Mitchell, E. & Menefee, K.
Publication Date: 
13 Apr 2021

Excerpted from abstract

This report, co-authored by National Women’s Law Center and the Center on Poverty and Social Policy, examines and quantifies the impact that child care for all could have on women’s lifetime earnings and retirement security, underscoring just how much women and families have to gain when we recognize and invest in child care as a public good. Our research shows that building a system of high-quality, affordable child care for all will help families today and over the course of their lifetimes. For a summary of these findings, check out the report’s fact sheet.

Specifically, the report examines how expanding access to affordable, high quality child care will:

  • Increase the number of women with young children working full-time/full-year, especially for women with less than a college degree;
  • Narrow the unconditional earnings gap between men and women, by allowing more women to enter the workforce and work for more hours;
  • Increase women’s lifetime earnings—with the highest percent increases among Black and Latina women—and strengthen women’s financial security into retirement; and
  • Reverse the history of undervaluing women’s caregiving responsibilities by significantly improving the economic and retirement security of child care workers.