Having a child can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it is not without its challenges. For most people, it is a pivotal step towards full adulthood and requires a great deal of contemplation in regards to finances and time availability.
The most recent census statistics have proven that having children is a common occurrence for young Irish adults, making Ireland’s under under-five population one of the highest in the 38 European Union countries that were examined; 398,000 children, or 7pc of the Irish population, is made up of young children.
A Eurydice report , published in 2019, focused heavily on examining early childhood education and care in European nations noted that Ireland is one of four countries to have extremely high child care rates, especially for those under the age of three. The other three countries with high costs are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
This sheer number of children within Ireland comes as a somewhat shock to economists, who note that the costliness of childcare exceeds almost every other European country. There are a multitude of reasons for these hefty costs, but a large one is that Ireland has yet to put a price cap or any type of limitations on the rates and fees that are associated with young children’s needs.
For the most part, the price levels remain dependent on the market which is a huge hindrance for parents. As the reports have stated, there continues to be an influx in the five or below generation but there has been little change over recent decades in childcare services available. Because of this, the demand for these services is much higher than the supply. This increases prices dramatically.
Although these prices are high, the implementation of a price ceiling could stifle growth in the market and even create a larger deficit in childcare facilities available. If the sitters feel that they are not being fairly compensated, they could pull out of the market altogether, leaving the situation even more competitive and hostile than before.
Other countries, such as Latvia, have entirely free or close to free childcare systems; some even include one to two meals a day. Ireland has been scrutinized for lack of these assets for parents, but with economic uncertainty looming and the always-growing population of five year olds or below there seems to be little change to come in this direction.
At least for now, those who have children must be prepared to handle the social and economic burden that their bundles of joy are to present on them.