Family/Dad work-life balance – in an international context.

Starting of my blogging career a little over half a year ago, never quite knew where it would take me.

Writing in a financial independence/minimalistic/sustainable niche – anonymously I have started to read/follow a lot of different blogs from around the world in this space. It has actually been quite interesting and insightful. Facebook groups on sustainable off-grid living, investors running DGI portfolios in pursuit of financial independence, and even a couple of Dad groups on Facebook have seen me apply.

Especially the two Dad groups I have joined – DadVenture and A bunch of Dads have been particularly interesting. There is a lot of Dad love in there. Dad support and advise, and a lot of different dad stories from around the globe. In the mist of all the usual stories; weddings, newborns, break ups and illness, one of the things I notice the most and reflect the most on is how we have “designed” family life slightly different around the globe.

I find it really hard to read about all the American dads running two jobs in order to support their families. Off course there are lifestyle choices involved, and people prone to overconsumption, but still there are so many stories about this. About their worries about making ends meet. Usually these stories will be coupled with a stay at home mom, taking care/nursing kids, home schooling, etc, due to the excessive costs of daycare, and private schools.

I am a Dane, so I can’t help to compare all these stories with how life looks in Denmark for the typical family/Dad. Let me start be saying, that I am in no way judging which is better, as the “danish” model also has its drawbacks. In Denmark, we have basically institutionalized all kids from the age of 1. The way this is “organized” has a lot to do with cost. So courtesy of Minimal5, here is the typical Danish break down;

First let’s start with nursing. We will in Copenhagen give 560 USD/month for nursing. Opening hours are usually from 7-16.45. All meals are included. There will usually be a 11-12 kids to 3 adults ratio. (This is currently subject to huge debate in Denmark, and currently basically all public policy revolves around this. Sorry 😐 I know, but apparently it is the most important thing to Danes currently.)

Stepping up, to daycare where we have one now, we will give 360 USD/month. Similar opening hours. All meals included. Ratio will usually be around 20 to 3. Public discussion also includes topics like quality “adult” time and organized “correct” stimulating content. – we have opted for a “Forrest” kindergarten. 😉.

Moving up, there will be after school day-care for 6-9 yo. This will typically set you back 150 USD/month. Opening hours are – after school to 17. Ratio I don’t know. We currently have one in this category.

Older kids will have a “club” offering also at prices around 150 USD/month. Similar opening hours.

Now, depending on your income level, these prices will be subject to reductions all the way down to free places if you have very little income. Also cost will be halved for 2nd and 3rd kid.

Summing up, we as a family currently pay around 500 USD/month for daycare for our three boys.

Just to conclude/state the obvious; this “setup” is off course a big part of the high danish tax rate, but it is also a big part of the high danish labour participation rate. Both are in fact among the world highest.

How the system is designed is basically a policy choice. There will be pro’s and con’s. In a couple of years we will be done using the various child care options provided. At that point off course we would be better off with a more slimmed down offering in exchange for lower tax rates. 10 years ago, the setup was basically essential in providing both my wife and I with the choice of a career, that we have been able to maintain while our 3 sons have been small.

What does your every day child care situation look like?


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