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Combining Employment with Childcare: An Escape From Dependence?

  • Clare Ward, Angela Dale and Heather Joshi

Abstract

The availability of childcare is an important factor in enabling motherhood to be combined with paid employment. This article uses evidence from the fifth sweep of the National Child Development Study to analyse the use of childcare by a cohort of employed women who were aged 33 in 1991. There is a heavy reliance on informal care by women in partnerships and also by lone mothers. Formal care is most heavily used by women whose youngest child is under five, especially if the woman works full-time. Reported costs of childcare represent nearly a quarter of net weekly earnings for mothers with a child under five. Formal childcare is shown to play an important role in facilitating women's full-time employment. Full-time employment is the route by which women achieve financial independence from their partner. It also increases the likelihood of contributing to an occupational pension which, in turn, has implications for financial independence in later life. However, the majority of women in this cohort do not take the full-time route. For these women, low earnings potential and part-time working make paid childcare uneconomic and reinforces both their role as minor financial contributors within the family and their lack of pension provision in later life.

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Combining Employment with Childcare: An Escape From Dependence?

  • Clare Ward, Angela Dale and Heather Joshi

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