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Why are childcare workers low paid? an analysis of pay in the UK childcare sector, 1994-2008

Gambaro, Ludovica (2012) Why are childcare workers low paid? an analysis of pay in the UK childcare sector, 1994-2008. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis examines pay among British childcare workers from 1994 to 2008. It uses childcare as an example of female care occupations and selects the UK as a case study because in recent years childcare services have expanded substantially. As childcare provision has become increasingly formal, the issue of the rewards attached to this type of work has become more pressing. The thesis asks why childcare workers in the UK have traditionally received low pay and to what extent they continue to do so. It explores the changes in childcare policy that have taken place since the mid-1990s in order to understand whether Government’s increased commitment to childcare services has resulted in an improvement in workers’ pay. The thesis develops a multi-layered analysis. First, based on a review of policy documents and secondary sources, the thesis examines British childcare policy and identifies the challenges to higher pay in the sector. Second, the thesis investigates changes in the characteristics and pay of the childcare workforce between 1994 and 2008 by using data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and from the Early Years and Childcare Providers survey. Finally, cultural assumptions about caring motivations and pay are explored on the basis of data from the LFS as well as findings from interviews with childcare workers. The thesis makes three main contributions. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods and a variety of information sources, it offers evidence on changes in the remuneration of British childcare workers, paying close attention to the way childcare policy, education policy and labour market institutions influence wage levels. Furthermore, drawing from the example of childcare in the UK, the thesis contributes to the wider debate on the undervaluation of women’s work by pointing to some of the institutional dynamics that account for low pay in the sector. Finally, the thesis highlights the direct labour market impact of a childcare and early education policies, thus exploring an important dimension of welfare state analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Ludovica Gambaro
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Lewis, Jane

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