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Nursery costs Cabinet studies ways to reduce childcare burden

More support for nurseries instead of cost cutting is the favored approach to contain high costs for parents


Parents who send their children to professional childcare facilities in Switzerland are shouldering a higher proportion of the costs for those services than in neighbouring countries, even though the nursery prices are roughly equivalent.

A cabinet report on Wednesdayexternal link says the costs for a child’s spot in a nursery were higher in some urban areas abroad than in the cantons Vaud and Zurich, the two places studied in Switzerland. But in rural areas of neighbouring countries and in Dresden in eastern Germany, the comparable costs were lower.

The report was commissioned by the Federal Social Insurance Officeexternal link and based on case studies between the two cantons – both known for drawing wealthy foreigners – and Austria’s city of Salzburg and Tyrol region, the German cities of Frankfurt and Dresden, and in and around the French city of Lyon.

Comparison shopping

At 2011 prices, the complete costs per day, measured in Swiss francs, were 112.40 in Zurich and 110.60 in Vaud, compared with 136.40 in Lyon; 136.30 in Frankfurt; 92.60 in Salzburg; 89 in Dresden and 62.50 in Tyrol.

“The cabinet therefore considers that there is little scope for saving on costs of nurseries and it must instead encourage cantons and municipalities to become more involved in financing kindergartens and, thereby, alleviate the burden on parents,” the report says, adding that the cabinet decided on May 20 to prepare a draft law that could accomplish that.

The report found that the share to be paid by parents is much higher in Switzerland, where there are substantially fewer subsidised nursery places.

“The fact that the full cost of a place in Switzerland is slightly above the average of the countries surveyed is explained by the higher level of wages (even in purchasing power parity), and the opening hours of larger nurseries,” it said.

The cabinet also said it had instructed the interior ministry to develop a plan by September that could increase federal financial support for cantons, communes and employers who help with childcare.

World record

Data analysis by in February also found that in Switzerland, full-time childcare costs parents some two-thirds of an average salary – a world record – and the lack of federal financing has serious repercussions for the labour force.

Switzerland held onto its position in 2014 as the number one destination for white-collar expatriate workers, but a study by HSBC bankexternal link exposed the exorbitant cost of childcare as a chief concern raised by new arrivals.

All countries, including Switzerland, offer either direct financial aid or tax breaks for families to assist with the costs of childcare. The end cost to parents is 30% of the average Swiss income when the different forms of assistance are deducted from the total cost of a place in a childcare facility.

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