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優質托兒照顧 造福母子兩代

2017-06-22 15:33紐時賞析

How Good Child Care Helps Mothers, and the Men They Raise

As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income.

Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults.

許多美國父母都知道,在上班日請人照顧幼兒的費用高得要命,得花掉一般家庭三分之一的收入。

幫助父母支付托兒費也需花費很高的社會成本。不過,最近的一些研究顯示,在幫助經濟困難家庭的所有政策中,資助高品質托兒照顧,對父母和他們的子女,甚至孫子輩,都能獲得最大的經濟回報。對婦女就業和受薪有最大的正面效益。這對低薪家庭幫助尤其大,因為可以促使世世代代的兒童成年後邁向更高的薪水、更好的工作、更健康的身體、更高的教育程度和較少的犯罪活動。

美國加州奧克蘭家庭托兒所所長南茜‧哈維(左)與受托幼兒玩耍。美聯社
美國加州奧克蘭家庭托兒所所長南茜‧哈維(左)與受托幼兒玩耍。美聯社
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Affordable care for children under 5, long a goal of Democrats, is now being championed by Ivanka Trump.

The Department of Health and Human Services says child care should cost 7 percent of a family’s income at most — but 42 percent of families who buy care for young children spend considerably more than that, according to census data analyzed by Beth Mattingly at the University of New Hampshire. A report by New America and Care.com put the average cost of child care in the United States at $16,514 a year.

5歲以下兒童的可負擔托兒照顧,是民主黨長期以來的目標,現在由伊凡卡.川普領軍推動。

美國衛生暨人類服務部表示,托兒照顧頂多只應花掉一個家庭收入的7%,但根據新罕布夏大學的貝絲.麥亭利對人口普查資料的分析,花錢請人照顧幼兒的家庭有42%花費遠高過這個比率。「新美國與照顧網站」的一份報告估計,在美國請人照顧兒童的平均花費為每年1萬6514美元。

It’s children with parents who can least afford high-quality care who benefit most from it, research has found. That is because affluent children have better alternatives. For well-off children, some studies have linked day care, especially low-quality care early in life, to achievement and behavior problems.

A powerful new study — which demonstrated long-term results by following children from birth until age 35 — found that high-quality care during the earliest years can influence whether both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives. The study was led by James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate economist at the University of Chicago.

研究發現,父母最無力負擔高品質托兒照顧的孩子受益最大。這是因為富裕家庭的兒童有更好的其他選擇。針對富家子弟,一些研究認為托兒照顧,特別是年幼時的低品質照顧,與長大後的成就和行為問題有關聯。

有項強有力的新研究藉由追蹤兒童出生到35歲的過程以展現長期結果,發現最年幼幾年的高品質照顧,對母親與生在弱勢家庭的孩子能否邁向成功人生,有一定影響力。這項研究由芝加哥大學獲諾貝爾獎的經濟學家詹姆士.赫克曼帶領。

“They’re engaged more in the workforce, they’re now active participants of society, they’re more educated, they have higher skills,” Heckman said. “So what we’ve done is promoted mobility across generations.”

The study analyzed two well-known experimental programs in North Carolina, which offered free, full-time care to low-income children age 8 weeks to 5 years, most of whom were black and lived with a single mother. The children in the control group were at home or in lower-quality programs.

The mothers of those in the experimental program earned more when the children were in preschool, and the difference was still there two decades later.

赫克曼說:「他們更投入勞動,他們現在是活躍的社會參與者,他們的教育程度更高,他們有更好的技能。因此,我們所做的是促進跨世代的流動性。」

這項研究分析北卡羅來納州兩項著名的實驗計畫,此二計畫對8周到5歲的低收入家庭兒童提供免費、全天照顧,主要是與單親媽媽同住的黑人小孩。對照組的兒童在家或接受較低品質的托兒計畫。

實驗計畫兒童的母親在孩子上幼稚園時已能賺得更多收入,20年後這差距依然存在。

文/Claire Cain Miller 譯/田思怡

說文解字看新聞

本文的主題是優質托兒照顧能讓弱勢家庭的母親賺更多錢,影響所及,她的子女,甚至孫子長大後都更成功。

本文關鍵字child care指的是請人照顧小孩,可能請保姆(a babysitter)或送到托兒所(a day-care center)。

在美國請人照顧小孩很花錢,本文提到提供家計有困難的家庭(struggling families)或低收入家庭(low-income families)優質托兒照顧實驗計畫(experimental programs of high-quality child care)。

實驗結果發現母親和生在弱勢家庭的孩子都能過較成功的生活(Both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives.)。句中的lead是度過的意思,例如lead a quiet life(過著寧靜的生活)。

文中提到川普的女兒伊凡卡擁護可負擔托兒照顧(champions affordable child care),她向國會遊說,希望國會改革稅制時,能加入托兒照顧費用可扣抵稅額(a deduction for child care expenses),但這項福利將在10年花掉聯邦政府5000億美元,恐怕不會得到國會支持。

文/田思怡

托兒弱勢家庭國際觀

紐時賞析

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