Edit: The thread title describes the de facto (and unwanted) effect of a policy that is de jure paying whichever parent (if any) chooses to be at home with their young children.
This is a spin-off from the Dem primary thread.
Watching children his hard and time-consuming. Everybody who has tried agree on this. It is also an undeniable fact that women do the bulk of this work, even in the developed world.
Not everybody can or want to use daycare, and watch their kids at home instead. Again, staying at home with the kids is mostly done by the mothers, and is unpaid labor.
Should this labor be compensated or subsidized by the government?
Here in Norway, we've done that since 1998. Parents of children not enrolled in government-subsidized daycare between the age of 1 and 2 years (until 2012 1–3 yrs) can get a cash subsidy (konstantstøtte
, lit. "cash support"). Children below the age of 1 are not covered by kontantstøtte
, as they are covered by other programs (specifically, parental leave).
The program was instituted by Kristlig Folkeparti, the religious-conservative party when they held the PM.
The program was and is highly controversial. The OECD has recommended kontantstøtta
is removed. Two key issues with kontanstøtte
- It is a subsidy of traditional gender roles. Fathers are equally eligible as mothers, but it's almost always mothers who end up staying at home.
- It hampers integration of immigrants. Immigrant mothers stay at home (even more so than natives) supported by kontanstøtta, and their kids never go to day care and socialize with natives (or immigrants from other cultures) or learn Norwegian.
Both these effects are well documented.
The alternative, which we have, is government-subsidized daycare. This allows women to enter the workforce, helps immigrants integrate into society (and natives to be used to living around and with immigrants), and is better for all children. But all this is undermined by kontantstøtte
I am personally strongly against kontantstøtte
, but I know others ( @spool32
) is in favor. In any case, it is a policy whose merits (and lack thereof) should be both discussed and understood.
Edit: Clarifying the thread topic:
Paying parents for the (otherwise) unpaid labor of watching pre-school kids sounds good on paper. However, it comes with significant downsides and de facto entrenches traditional gender roles. I think this is bad.
Is paying for the labor that is child-rearing worth those costs? How should we do things?
My suggestion: Paid parental leave, part of which is earmarked for the father. Then highly subsidised (or free) daycare. No payment to parents who keep their kids out of daycare. (If we remove the kontantstøtte
, Norway would in fact broadly have my preferred solution; we have all the other stuff already.)
Edit: Current system in Norway:
Parental leave: 49 weeks divided in 3: 19 weeks reserved for the mother, 19 weeks reserved for the father, 11 weeks to split as the parents see fit. (This can be increased to 59 weeks total by getting less money.) Some of the mother's weeks are taken prior to birth. In almost all cases, the de facto split is mother 30 weeks, father 19 weeks. Because gender roles.
From 1 year old, the child can be enrolled in government-subsidized daycare. Or, the parents can receive cash support instead (i.e., paying to support regressive gender roles and worse integration of immigrants).
From 6 years old, the child must start in school.