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New study reveals why investing in early childhood care and preschool education is a smart investment

Sep 21, 2015

(Photo: Giacomo Pirozzi/UNICEF)

A new report shows that investing in social care services not only promotes gender equality, but creates jobs, supports child development and resolves socioeconomic inequalities.

İstanbul, Turkey – A new report shows that increasing public investment in social care services in Turkey would create more and better jobs for women and men and resolve socioeconomic and gender inequalities.  

Highlighting the fact that the lack of high-quality, publicly affordable social care services in Turkey is a key factor in women’s low labour market participation, the report makes an economic case for greater investment in social care services. A striking finding of the research is that more decent jobs can be created from investing in social care services than in construction.

The study suggests that prioritizing fiscal expenditures for building a social care service infrastructure promises short-run economic returns in the form of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, improved gender equality in the labour market and alleviation of poverty through dual earner households.

The report, The Impact of Public Investment in Social Care Services on Employment, Gender Equality and Poverty: The Turkish Case has been produced by Istanbul Technical University Women’s Studies Centre and the Levy Economics Institute, New York, with support from UNDP, UN Women and ILO Turkey.

This study simulates the impact of an additional expenditure of 20.7 billion TRY on child-care centers and preschools - the estimated spending for Turkey to catch up with OECD preschool enrollment rates - on new employment opportunities, as well as on gender equality, income generation and poverty.

“Our research shows that the study shows that an expenditure of this magnitude in early childhood care and preschool education would create 2.5 times as many jobs as in construction sector – 719,000 versus 290,000,” said Ipek Ilkkaracan, associate professor of economics at the ITU (WSC), one of the three authors of the study.

Nearly three-fourths of these jobs (73 percent) of these new jobs would go to women, whereas as little as six percent of the new jobs in construction go to women. They would also be jobs with better contracts and benefits.

“The report, though focused on Turkey, presents key findings of great relevance to the Europe and Central Asia region,” said Rastislav Vrbensky, Manager of the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub, said at an event to launch the report in Istanbul on 18 September.

He noted that employment and decent work for men and women is central to the new Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted by heads of state and government in the General Assembly next week. Recognizing and valuing unpaid care and domestic work, and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family, is part of Goal 5, the gender equality goal.

A number of developing and transition economies in the region have very limited provisioning of social care services, low female labour force participation, and/or high unemployment.

>> Read a blogpost by the authors of the study here

>> See coverage of the report’s findings in Today’s Zaman, Hurriyet,  and by the Dogan News Agency.