Thursday January 3, 2013
Economist: Cheaper for parents to send children to daycare centres
By ISABELLE LAI
PETALING JAYA: More parents are opting to send their children to day-care centres with the dearth of maids and this is easier on their pockets, said an economist.
Pointing out that it was not cheap to hire a maid, he said families in which the parents were in their mid-30s and above could afford a lump sum payment from their savings.
“Young families starting out a new household will find it difficult to cough up the RM8,000 to RM12,000 lump sum needed to get a maid.
“For the first five years at least they will be saving for a car or house,” he said in an interview.
He said the rising tertiary services sector, including daycare and childcare services, was in line with the country’s maturing economy.
More specialised services, including the outsourcing of household chores and maintenance, would become even more prevalent, he said.
It was earlier reported that Malaysia might soon be the last choice for foreign domestic maids due to the current low exchange rate as well as other nations paying higher wages.
On daycare centres, Dr Yeah said there was also a trend of better quality centres being set up which catered to the demands of parents in the middle and upper classes.
He noted that these centres usually offered child education services, which parents deemed important in enhancing their children’s development.
“The average Malaysian household spending pattern will likely shift towards greater utilisation of such services. I think young parents would likely find this a better trade-off as the cost is lower than having a full-time maid,” he said, adding that, however, this depended on the family’s location.
Dr Yeah urged young parents to juggle their priorities based on their income level, as a maid’s upkeep and salary would contribute to a substantial part of their household expenses.
MIDF research chief economist Anthony Dass said that while it was a rising trend for parents to opt for daycare centres, it was not a sustainable one.
“The continuous demand for maids is because people want them to care for their children or parents. This is why daycare centres can only be a complementary factor and not a substitute for maids,” he said.
While agreeing that a RM5,000 combined household income was the “bare minimum” for those keen on hiring maids, Dass said having maids was still the more economically viable option in the end.
“The initial lump sum will still be knocked off from their salary in the following months. But the setback is that there is no one teaching the child. So it comes back to the parents and their priorities,” he said.
Dass said there was also a rising trend of mothers quitting their jobs to look after their children or the children being sent to live with their grandparents during the week.