What influences mothers' decisions about working after having a child?
Coram Family and Childcare worked with Understanding Society on a project to understand more about how childcare prices might influence mothers' decisions about work.
Employment rates for mothers in the UK are much lower than those for fathers, or women without dependent children. For some women, whether they work is a personal choice, but for other women challenges in finding affordable childcare or making work pay may also be deciding factors in whether they return to work.
Coram Family and Childcare wanted to explore this issue in more detail. They worked with Understanding Society on a project which combined data from Understanding Society on mothers' employment with data on local childcare prices. The research looked at women in the UK from the year before they had a baby to up to three years afterwards to investigate what could be influencing choices around paid work.
The research found that women who lived in the 25% most expensive areas for childcare were less likely to return to work compared to women living in areas where childcare was cheaper. Childcare prices seemed to be a particular barrier to work for low earning and part-time working women. Women who used informal childcare, such as having grandparents care for their child, were much more likely to return to work than those who didn't have this option.