Posted by: kcnafrica | May 1, 2011

Consider the Cost

There’s a Bible verse (Luke 14:28) which says: But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?

I have realized in the LOCAC that this counting the cost can easily apply to having children, if the mother has a career.

OK, sure, in most places in the world, a woman’s life changes (sometimes drastically) after she has a child. Many feel that children are the woman’s primary responsibility, regardless of what the man has (or has not) on his plate. Not here to argue for or against that notion.

But children can become an issue to a working mom who wants to return to work because, by and large, daycare is not so easy to find. The big town closest to us (Bienne) has 48,735 inhabitants (and this doesn’t consider the small hamlets like ours who would use the services in the big town because there aren’t any in our hamlets). So I think we can safely put the number at 50,000.

There are 10 state-run daycares (SRD) in Bienne. I have been told, by people who were not exaggerating, that the minute a woman confirms her pregnancy, she puts her name on a wait-list for daycare because it can take a year or more to get a place. Preference is given to single moms (at least !) and families who already have a child in that particular daycare. At SRD, the amount charged is based on your salary, which I thought was a progressive idea (well, at least for those who are on the lower end of the salary scale).

For the unfortunate ones who don’t get into SRD by the time the four months of paid maternity leave comes to an end, you can put Junior or Princess in a private daycare (which can easily run $1500-$2000/month) or go to a maman du jour (a mom for the day), which seems roughly equivalent to the home daycares in the U.S. Mamans du jour are paid at an hourly rate, which I’m sure can add up.

You can’t even breathe a sigh of relief once your child reaches school age. There are no cafeterias in Swiss schools, because children go home for lunch. So even if you’re back to work, you’d still have to pay someone to pick up/feed your bundle of joy.

Many of the expatriates I’ve met here 1) can’t believe this system in a Western country and 2) wonder if all this is meant to keep the woman in the home. I have even been told that your tax bracket raises if there are two incomes, regardless of how much is made.

To be fair, the LOCAC is one of the few places I’ve lived where there is a tiered level of working, to where you could have a 50% or 70% job and still make enough of a living to actually live.

Statistics show that many European countries are having negative birth rates, meaning the rate of births is not keeping pace with the number of deaths. This causes economic issues for any country. In the case of couples in the LOCAC, I can understand why.

because a reflective heart does good,



  1. Hmmmmmm. Scratching my head. I don’t really know what to say. However,
    like I’ve said before…. time to write that book on your experiences in Europe
    as a missionary (good. bad and the ugly……

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