This is the second in a series talking about things the US might learn from Sweden. This Lesson to be learned is about Family Care and Education.
In the US
The average cost for one week at a child-care center is about $200 or about $10,000 per year per child. After school sitters run about $14/hour and nannies about $35/hour.
In the US, only California, New Jersey, and New York have laws that give employees between 4 and 10 weeks paid leave at 55-70 percent of their salaries when they have a child.
Day-care and preschool costs are based on family income. Day-care, if the parents are unemployed, is totally free as well as the first fifteen hours a week for children between 3 and 6 years old for preschool. Fees for other families are on a sliding scale with a ceiling of $37/week. Most Swedes place their children in public school. Private school is available but seldom used.
Swedish pregnant women get free and subsidized prenatal care and parents get 480 days (240 days for each parent) of paid leave at about 80% of their salary with a cap of $105/day when a child is born or adopted. The 480 days can be used until a child is eight years old. Parents can also reduce their normal work hours by up to 25 percent until their child is eight, but they’re paid only for the time they work.
Parents get about 80 percent of their salaries when they stay home with a sick child up to age 12. They can take this temporary leave up to 120 days a year.
In the US
Public education through grade twelve is free, but due to the perceived low quality many choose private schools at up about $12,000/year. School lunches, books and supplies are seldom free.
The average college debt of a four-year graduate is about $32,000. For law-school graduates the average debt is between $90,000 and $120,000, and those completing medical school owe an average of $197,000.
Kindergarten through high school is free, as are school lunches. Undergraduate college/university tuition is also free. If students need money for books, food, and housing, they get nearly no-interest loans so when they graduate, they often have zero debt, particularly if they live with parents while in school. Postgraduate education, such as medical and law school, is also free. Undergraduates aged 16–20 also get $136 monthly stipends for living expenses during the school year. If their families are low-income, they may get more. Not surprisingly, doctors and lawyers don’t need to make huge salaries to repay mountains of debt.
Next Friday I will be covering the topics of medical care, housing and transportation.