The Costs of Children

The Costs of Children

Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe

Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson

The expert contributors provide an assessment of how countries can handle the fair allocation of the costs of childcare. They look at the experience within Europe in recent years and show in particular how these interrelate with the objectives of improving income, employment and social inclusion. The book’s conclusion reveals that choice is the key ingredient as families have different views and different degrees of support available from their relatives. Income and social inclusion can provide choice but ironically employment does not always. An employment-based model can sometimes narrow people’s choices, particularly for people on low wages. The major concern is that most existing systems effectively discriminate against mothers.

Chapter 6: The impact of childcare costs for Northern Irish females

Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy


Childcare remains a crucial policy issue within Northern Ireland as parents attempt to reconcile their childcare and work demands. The decision for parents of dependent children to return to or access work is directly influenced by determinants including the cost and availability of childcare, and the expected salary of the parent. Essentially it has to pay to work. Within Northern Ireland, recognition of the importance of childcare has been a political talking point; however, it has not progressed beyond this. Northern Ireland operates under the umbrella of an antiquated National Childcare Strategy, which was produced in 1999. It has not been updated since. As a policy issue, childcare in Northern Ireland has been neglected, and as a consequence, there are no clear lines of accountability or central funding for childcare services. In the other three regions of the United Kingdom (UK), England, Wales and Scotland, childcare is a prominent political issue which is consistently addressed through childcare strategies which have been periodically updated since their introductions in the late 1990s.

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