Overpriced childcare services hinder women's labor force participation
by Anka News Agency
ANKARASep 17, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anka News Agency
Sep 17, 2015 12:00 am
The World Bank has published a report titled "Supply and demand for childcare services in Turkey" and suggested that both the supply of services and utilization remain low, despite increases in the availability of center-based childcare and preschool services in Turkey over the last decade. According to the report, only one third of the children in Turkey have been registered to childcare centers and pre-school education institutions, a much lower rate than the one observed in the Organisation for Economic Co-ordination and Development (OECD) and EU countries with similar levels of GDP per capita such as Chile, Bulgaria, Mexico and Romania. The report also suggested that there is regional inequality in the number of childcare and pre-school institutions and said, "Most of the children and the members of the household cannot receive this crucial service."
The report revealed that the demand for such institutions is higher in cities where there are a great number of literate women and the population density is relatively low. The schooling rate in children aged between 3-5 is estimated as 29.5 percent. Considering these figures, the study indicated that nearly 2.7 million children cannot benefit from childcare services and pre-school institutions.
As the study shows, childcare services are mostly offered by the private sector for working mothers; unfortunately, these services tend to be more expensive than a member of a household can or wants to afford. For most women with low levels of education the difference between earnings and the cost of care is too low to justify joining the labor force and their willingness to pay for care does not cover the current median prices for childcare and pre-school education institutions.
The report also featured a study conducted to determine women's place in the labor force. As the study shows, 45 percent of women said that although they were working before, they had to quit their jobs due to childcare responsibilities. On the other hand, international studies suggest that the increase in the accessibility of childcare services results in an increase in the number of women joining the labor force. Moreover, results that surfaced following the interviews also suggested that the high prices of childcare services that provide high quality education and care are the main setbacks for women who want to return to their profession after having a child. Forty-three percent of the women who reside in urban areas and do not work said the existence of affordable childcare centers that offer a high quality of service will help to increase the budget of the family as well as the level of the welfare of children and other members of the household.
The report highlighted that a new model of childcare services should be initiated in order to increase the welfare of children as well as the families. "To solve the main problem of accessibility of affordable and high quality childcare services, a new program should be developed that will embrace the various segments of society."
Comprehensive policies that target both the supply and availability of childcare while making it more affordable on the demand side particularly for women who have the potential to join the labor market, are expected and likely to have a high employment impact as well as benefit from the early development of Turkish children.