Why is child care so expensive in Ireland

Why daycare centers in Switzerland are so much more expensive than in the rest of the world

In hardly any other western country does the state pay so little for childcare as in Switzerland. Especially in German-speaking Switzerland, parents are massively asked to pay.

Childcare is expensive, insanely expensive. Every family who has struggled through the Basel jungle of subsidized, co-financed and unsubsidized day care centers knows this. Beyond personal experience, reliable data also show how expensive childcare in Switzerland is in international comparison.

The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) found in a study that nowhere is childcare more expensive than in Switzerland. For reasons of comparability, the costs for full-time care for two children were given based on the average salary typical for the country. Conclusion: In Switzerland, two childcare places account for almost 70 percent of a net average wage of 56,000 francs (source: OECD). The EU average is 27 percent, at the other end of the scale is Austria with 5 percent.

Anglo-Saxons pay more net

Net, i.e. including all deductions, tax credits, etc., these costs are of course a lot lower, but here too Switzerland is way ahead. A family with two children who together earn one and a half times the average salary still has to spend almost a third of their income on childcare in a day care center or a similar structure. It is only more expensive in Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Switzerland is a better place for single parents who have to spend 14 percent of their income on childcare. This corresponds exactly to the OECD average.

A comparison between the Swiss cantons is also interesting. The Infras research office carried out a study on this in 2015 (see “Background to the article”, link at the top right). The study undertakes an analysis of the full childcare costs in four Swiss municipalities (Zurich, Fehraltorf ZH, Lausanne, Lutry VD) and compares them with selected cities in Germany, Austria and France.

A look at Vaud shows that the share that households have to pay for looking after their children can also be in an internationally comparable range in Switzerland. In the canton of Vaud, families are supported by their employers by law. The burden for a one-parent household - 100 percent employed, full-time care for two children - is half as high in Lausanne as in Zurich and similar to that in Frankfurt or Vienna.

From the family's point of view, the conditions in the French-speaking cantons are generally more generous than in German-speaking Switzerland, as Nadine Hoch, Managing Director of the Kibesuisse industry association, confirms: "Whether financing or training - French-speaking Switzerland is way ahead of German-speaking Switzerland." For Hoch, the problem is above all a political one: "The basic attitude still prevails that looking after small children is a private matter." According to Hoch, numerous studies confirm the benefits of early intervention.

Daycare centers in the struggle for existence

For Nadine Hoch, the care system has reached a critical point: “The air has become thin for many daycare centers. If the financing by the economy or the state is not improved, we are heading for a crisis. " Especially since the demand for better and more support is becoming loud again. For Hoch it is clear that only government grants combined with financial resources from the private sector can improve the situation in the daycare centers: "We can no longer burden the parents and the operators can only survive now if they work as efficiently as possible."

Unfortunately, there are no comparable calculations for Basel-Stadt. A look at the brochure "What does childcare cost for my child?" shows that in a one-parent household with the highest net income still eligible for subsidies of CHF 150,000, full-time childcare also accounts for well over 17 percent of income (file on the back of the article).

Light in the jungle

With the numerous different categories of daycare centers, Basel has a particularly complex care landscape. But remedial action should be taken here. A change in the law is currently being discussed to level out these differences. In the future there will only be two categories, daycare centers with and daycare centers without state subsidies. The childcare dossier is not cheaper for families, but the jungle of categories is clearing.