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How did parenthood become an unaffordable luxury?

Money alone won’t fix the childcare crisis. Rethinking work and family might.

By Sophie McBain

The UK is now one of the most expensive places in the developed world to have a baby. Our childcare costs are the highest, with a full-time nursery place for a two-year-old costing £15,000 a year (and much more in London). A recent survey found that six in ten women who have an abortion cited childcare costs as one of their reasons, while one in four parents were cutting back on essentials such as food and clothing to make ends meet.  

“It is hard to fully account for the loss and disappointment, the sense of stuckness, among many people in their twenties and thirties,” writes New Statesman associate editor (and mother of three) Sophie McBain in this week’s richly reported and often personal audio long read. She looks at the costs to the UK economy (one think tank put this at £27bn a year), as well as what the current crisis says about our relationship with work and care. Can this government – or a future Labour one – reimagine parenthood entirely? What would that look like?

This article originally appeared in the 22 March 2023 issue of the magazine, and you can read the full text here.

Written and read by Sophie McBain.

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