It is never easy being a working mum. In some countries it is harder than in others. According to a recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, Switzerland has room for improvement.
Firstly, the OECD suggests increasing the availability of childcare and reducing its cost. Childcare costs in Switzerland are high, even relative to Switzerland’s high pay. A place in a nursery can cost as much as CHF 170 a day, making working uneconomic for many mothers. Switzerland’s cantons are working with local communes to increase the number of affordable places however there is still much to be done.
Next on the OECD’s list are steps to eliminate the dissuasive marginal tax rates on second earners. In Switzerland, taxes are levied on a family’s total income. This means that second incomes are taxed at the marginal rate of the first earner. The OECD proposes moving from joint to individual tax assessment.
Finally, the OECD recommends a corporate governance code to establish gender goals in management and board gender targets. Switzerland lags far behind Europe on this measure. A 2014 Egon Zehnder European Board Diversity Analysis shows that only 13.9% of Swiss board seats were held by women, compared to 20.3% in Europe as a whole.
The economic opportunity cost of women not working is considerable. Many think emerging markets such as China have been the largest drivers of global economic growth over recent decades. The reality is something less obvious: the inclusion of women in the workforce. According to The Economist magazine women have contributed more to global GDP growth than have either new technology or the growth of the new economic giants: China and India. Women of course have always worked they just haven’t been paid for it – looking after children and family is unpaid.
The good news for Switzerland is that it is yet to realize much of the economic potential from women entering the workforce. Unlocking this could add significantly to one of the world’s highest levels of per capita GDP.
2014 Egon Zehnder European Board Diversity Analysis (Egon Zehnder – in English)
Forget China, India and the internet: economic growth is driven by women (The Economist – in English)
A guide to womenomics (The Economist – in English)