Childcare key to reducing income inequality
Research from a leading Edinburgh university has found that adequate provision of high quality childcare could play a vital role in reducing inequality in Scotland.
Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in the Scottish capital were looking at factors which affect salary inequality between men and women and those at the top and bottom of the earning scale.
The findings of the research point support for women at the lower-paid end of the workforce being particularly effective in addressing inequality, reflecting the fact that poor households are often female-headed.
The report also found that the provision of high quality childcare is the single policy likely to reduce income inequality between men and women because it would enable parents to return to work or work longer hours.
Additionally, childcare can have a huge impact on the development of children, further reducing inequality in the future.
A Scottish government spokeswoman said high quality early learning and childcare plays a vital role in narrowing the attainment gap.
“This government has gone further than any other in our commitment to expanding free entitlement. In addition to the educational benefits for children, free provision can help parents and carers to return to work, training or education.
“Increasing the number of funded hours for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds from 600 hours to 1,140 hours is our most transformative infrastructure project.
“No other policy has such potential to change the lives of children and their families while improving the prospects of Scotland’s economy in the short and long term.”
The researchers found that families in Scotland were in the mid-range of income inequality internationally, with families in London and the South West of England being most affected by income inequality.
Whilst the government’s plans to increase funded hours for three year olds have not been without criticism from the childcare industry, this could play an important role in helping more parents get back to work and reduce the inequality in salaries in the future.