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Tapping a "Motherload" of Opportunity: How BC Can Gain From More Accessible Childcare

Highlights

  • Women, particularly in the child-rearing years, are less active than their male peers in the workforce. The correlation between child-rearing and labour force participation is not coincidental. When surveyed, women cite family obligations, including child care, as the principal reason for leaving the workforce.
  • When women opt out of the labour force, it results in missed opportunities for families, businesses and the economy.  Women make up over half of the population and now account for majorities of university and college graduates in most fields of study, especially among adults under age 30. 

  • This begs the question: what can be done to improve women’s labour force attachment and leverage the "motherload" of home-grown, highly-qualified talent? Answer: Expanding access to quality child care.

  • Access to child care is not just an issue for women and their families, it’s also a business and human capital issue.  Some estimates suggest that, with greater access to child care, increased maternal labour supply could boost employment income by several hundred million dollars per year. 

  • Increasing the availability of child care could close 8% of the labour force participation rate gap between women and men. Any increase in the labour supply, particularly in light of current demographic trends, counts as a positive outcome and will lead to a higher level of GDP.  In a slow-growth world, even smallish economic gains are worth pursuing.

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