This is the fourth report that uses the Growing Up in New Zealand data to explore how the inability to access affordable childcare affects the long run labour market outcomes of mothers. 

The relationship between childcare and paid work is explored in the fourth report and highlights that early childhood education is important infrastructure for the labour market as well as education. 

  • Mothers whose child is not in childcare due to access issues are likely to still want or need employment. Many who are managing to work use precarious childcare. There is a strong relationship between the hours children are in childcare and the hours women work, with hours in childcare roughly matching mothers hours in paid work. Those mothers without access to childcare who still manage paid work, work the fewest hours. 
  • The total annual value of wages lost by mothers with a child under 3 due to lack of childcare access is estimated to be $116 million in 2020 dollars. At 9 months the average New Zealand mother who is not working due only to childcare access would be working 24 hours per week if she were working. At 2 years, such mothers would be working 27 hours per week. Affected Māori women, miss 25 hours of work each week at 9 months and 28 hours at 2 years. Pasifika women miss 28 hours at 9 months and 33 hours at 2 years.
  • Expressed as wages,  at 9 months mothers not working only due to childcare issues are missing out on an average of $2,660 per month and at 2 years they are missing out on $3,500. Affected Māori mothers are missing out on $2,400 at 9 months and $3,230 at 2 years. Affected Pasifika mothers are missing out on $2,350 at 9 months and $3,350 at 2 years.
  • Although Māori mothers are only 22% of those giving birth each year, they bear an estimated 28% of the missed wage cost; because Māori mothers are substantially over-represented among mothers not working due only to childcare access at 2 years.

Read the other reports in this series: