Shortage of daycare places in Switzerland

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For many working parents, reconciling family and career is one of the biggest challenges. In Switzerland, this problem applies particularly to childcare. The country is in accordance with a UNICEF study, one of the countries with the most expensive daycare places in Europe. There is also a limited supply, with around 7,000 daycare places missing.

According to the UNICFE study on childcare in “high-income countries,” countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland are among those with the highest childcare costs for the middle class. A couple with an average income pays between 30% and 50% of a salary to finance the care of two children.

Grandparents are responsible for 40% of supplementary family care

In Switzerland, 70% of 0-3 year olds need additional childcare, with an average of 21.1 hours per week providing them with supplementary family care. Interestingly enough, 40% of this care is provided by grandparents, while just over 30% of childcare for 0-3 year olds takes place in daycare centers. These figures highlight the need for more available childcare facilities to suit families and at the same time underline the important role of grandparents in family supplementary care.

When there are no grandparents on site, there is a particularly high need for further care options. Daycare centers can only cover part of the demand — Switzerland currently lacks around 7,000 daycare places. Creating new daycare places is difficult due to high operating costs and lack of space and is therefore a long time coming.

In addition, there are high annual care costs in daycare centers, which amount to an average of around CHF 12,100 after deducting subsidies. Costs are often cited as a key reason why many parents do not consider professional childcare services.

Many parents have difficulty finding appropriate and affordable care options for their children and are therefore interrupting their work activities. The experience of Andreas (43) and Tanja (39) from Thalwil is representative of this. “We got a place when the child was one and a half years old (...) in the end, my wife had to stop working with three children to make sense.”

Switzerland is in the last places in terms of parental leave

Parents in this country also receive only limited support when it comes to parental leave. Mothers in Switzerland have been entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave since 2005. Since 2021, fathers have been entitled to 10 days of paternity leave for the first time. In terms of these figures, Switzerland is at the bottom of the UNICEF country comparison.  


Better support for working parents in Switzerland can bring long-term benefits to society. When parents have to worry less about caring for their children, none of the parents have to unintentionally retire from working life. Due to the scarcity of paternity leave in Switzerland, it is often the mothers who have to retire from working life for a period of time so that childcare is guaranteed. The career break can create an income gap in pension funds and lead to disregard for higher positions. More care services for 0-3 year olds therefore not only lead to a more general easier reconciliation of family and work, but also to more balanced gender roles in working life and to more women in management positions.  


  • CS, Childcare costs in regional comparison, 2021
  • BFS, family supplementary childcare 2022
  • UNICEF, Where do rich countries stand on childcare? , 2021