ERIC Number: ED453944
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Apr
Why Are Early Education and Care Wages So Low? A Critical Guide to Common Explanations. Working Paper Series.
Nelson, Julie A.
Arguing that common explanations for low wages for early education and care work are inadequate and misleading, this essay seeks to clarify for early education and care advocates the reasoning and the fallacies underlying these explanations. The essay maintains that economists' argument concerning "human capital" erroneously assumes that early education and care is low-skill work. The essay further argues that economists' notion of "compensating wage differentials" may explain why an individual might take a low-paying job, but cannot explain why the wage for a whole occupation is low. The essay asserts that if economists'"crowding" explanation were correct, one should see too many people wanting to work in early education and care. Further, the idea that low wages protect children by warding off money-motivated workers is based on untenable assumptions about motivations, responsibilities, and opportunity costs. The essay argues that the notion that wages must be low for early education and care to remain affordable for parents depends on excessively individualistic reasoning. It is noted that campaigns for higher wages for early education and care workers can point out that most counter arguments come from distorted understanding of the nature of work and care, and can seek to correct these by appropriately valuing care, children, and early education and care skills. (KB)
Descriptors: Child Caregivers, Compensation (Remuneration), Day Care, Early Childhood Education, Economic Factors, Preschool Teachers, Teaching (Occupation), Wages
Foundation for Child Development, 145 East 32nd Street, New York, NY 10016-6055; Tel: 212-213-8337; Fax: 212-213-5897; For full text: http://www.ffcd.org.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Foundation for Child Development, New York, NY.
Note: Research was supported by the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life, the Foundation for Child Development, and the Charlotte Perkins Gillian Memorial Fellowship for Research on Caring Center.