Go to contents

Free childcare hampers female employment: report

Posted August. 21, 2013 03:52,   


The current free childcare policy is having a negative impact on raising female employment, a state-owned think tank said. This could mean the government struggling to raise capital for welfare budget should redesign excess welfare system that go in the reverse direction from policy goals.

At a report on "Nine facts on child education support and policy implications," researcher Yoon Hui-sook at Korea Development Institute said Tuesday, "Korea`s childcare support has been expanding based on political considerations rather than policy reasonability, causing a rise in unnecessary fiscal burden."

According to the report, the government`s childcare budget rose 2.6 times from 4.8 trillion won (4.3 U.S. billion dollars) in 2009 to 12.3 trillion won (11 billion dollars) this year. As more politicians have engaged in "free-giving" competition, demand for childcare at nurseries has surged leading to a rise in government financial support. Yoon said, "Korea guarantees 12 hours of childcare a day for those aged 0-5, which is different from advanced countries that differentiate support based on whether the mother has a job and her income level."

The problem is that such uniform childcare support is hampering women`s economic activity. Due to soaring childcare demand, families are having a difficult time finding suitable nurseries, while nurseries have come to discriminate double-income family. The employment rate of women whose children are aged 0-2 is 33.2 percent, lower than the children`s childcare center usage rate of 48.7 percent. This is the sole case among OECD member countries.

Experts say the government`s welfare and job creation pledges also conflict with half-tuition policy for universities. Lower tuition fees encourage high school students to enter college, which can lead to rising number of college graduates and thus aggravating youth unemployment rate. Yoon said, "Sweden maintains a high employment rate because the welfare benefits are linked with whether people have jobs," adding, "Welfare systems should be devised in line with policy directions."