Data published this week by Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office show that 28% of children aged 0 to 12 years old were looked after by their grandparents.
Overall, 61% of children under 13 years old spend part of their time being looked after by someone other than their parents. 35% spend time in childcare, 28% with grandparents, 10% with other family and friends, 5% with a family charging for the service and 4% with a nanny.
Children under 4 (64%) are more likely to be looked after by someone other than their parents than those between 3 and 13 (59%).
The likelihood of children being cared for outside the home rises with income. 83% of households with earnings in the top 25% put their children into child care compared to 38% of those in the lowest 25%. This might be because higher paying jobs require more time at work. It might also reflect the prohibitive cost of childcare for those on lower incomes. The biggest income-based difference in childcare is in paid childcare. 62% of the highest earners choose this option compared to 23% of those in the lowest income group. The difference was smaller for grandparents.
Swiss children spend a relatively high amount of time in informal childcare compared to much of Europe. 42% of 0 to 3 year olds spend 1 to 30 hours or more a week in informal childcare. Only children in the Netherlands (45%) and UK (43%) spend more time in informal care. The EU average is 21%. Sweden (16%), France (13%), Germany (9%) and Italy (39%) are all lower. In Denmark the figure is 0%.
These figures, to a large degree, reflect the availability (and affordability) of formal childcare. Switzerland ranks near the bottom, above only Austria, on time spent in formal childcare. If the formal sort isn’t available then the informal option will be in higher demand. In Switzerland 31% of 0 to 3 year olds spend 1 to 30 hours or more a week in formal childcare. In Denmark, the same figure is 69%. On this measure, France (57%) and Sweden (56%) are well ahead of Switzerland (31%). Although some nations, like the Netherlands (75%) and UK (39%) combine high rates of informal and formal childcare, while others, like Germany (31%) and Italy (33%) have low rates of both. The EU average for formal care is 36% of children aged 0 to 3.
The figures are from 2020 and 2021.