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How does the cost of childcare in Norway compare to other Nordic countries?

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21 Nov, 2022 Updated Mon 21 Nov 2022 17:34 CEST
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Parents in Norway spend an average of 3,106 kroner per month on pre-school/kindergarten – including free places, food fees, and other additional fees. How does that compare to other countries?

In Norway, pre-school/daycare ("kindergarten") is offered to children aged 1 to 5, below compulsory school age. Once they're 6 years old, children start attending primary school.

As they have integrated systems for children until they start attending primary school, there is no categorical separation between education and care in kindergartens for the youngest and the oldest children in the Nordic countries. 

That means that there is no "formal kindergarten" in Norway, and the offer mainly revolves around play, focusing on learning through fun and developing social skills. 

There are both municipal and private pre-school offers in the country, with a common admission process. 

What is the cost of pre-school in Norway?

The latest SSB data shows that the national average for monthly pre-school/daycare expenses in Norway amounts to 3,106 kroner. This amount differs based on where you live. 

When it comes to Norway's ten largest municipalities, the 2022 costs range from 2,650 kroner in Fredrikstad to 3,384 kroner in Bærum.

Here's the full list of monthly kindergarten expenses in the country's major municipalities for this year:

  1. Oslo municipality: 3,082 kroner
  2. Bergen: 3,170 kroner
  3. Trondheim: 3,167 kroner
  4. Stavanger: 3,042 kroner
  5. Bærum: 3,384 kroner
  6. Kristiansand: 2,999 kroner
  7. Drammen: 3,237 kroner
  8. Asker: 3,182 kroner
  9. Lillestrøm: 3,156 kroner
  10. Fredrikstad: 2,650 kroner

National expenditure on pre-school in Norway vs other Nordic countries

According to the 2018 Education at a Glance report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Norway spent 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on pre-school/daycare kindergartens in 2015 – roughly 18,500 dollars per child, which makes it the top spender among the Nordic countries that year.

As the SSB pointed out in 2019, the annual costs per child in kindergarten in Norway are higher than in other Nordic countries. 

While Denmark has an expenditure similar to Norway's (16,000 dollars per child), Finland spends only 12,000 dollars per child (1.2 percent of its GDP). At the same time, the OECD average amounted to 9,000 dollars per child or 0.8 percent of GDP.

Denmark

In Denmark, every child is guaranteed a place at a public childcare facility from the age of six months. The government pays 75 percent of the cost of a place or even more if your household income is below a certain threshold. 

The exact amount parents pay depends on the Kommune. In Copenhagen Municipality, the cost of nursery (vuggestue up to 2 years and 10 months) is 4,264 kroner a month including lunch (roughly €573). For kindergarten (børnehave from 2 years and 10 months to 6 years) it is 2,738 kroner a month including lunch (roughly €368).

If you have more than one child using childcare, you pay full price for the most expensive daycare and half-price for the others.

Some municipalities (kommuner) pay you money if you choose to look after your own child at home after maternity leave.

Frederiksberg Municipality for example pays 8,141 kroner per child per month for looking after children under 3 and 4,198 kroner per month for children over 3.

Parents in Denmark can also receive child and youth benefits (børne- og ungeydelsen), also known as børnepenge. This is a tax-free payment that you receive for each of your children until they reach the age of 18.

For children aged 0-2 years it is 4,653 kroner per quarter (roughly €156 per month per child). For children aged 3-6 years it is 3,681 kroner per quarter (roughly €123 per month per child).

Sweden

Preschool childcare is not free in Sweden, but fees are income-based, with a maximum fee across the country 1,572 kronor (€145) per child per month (fees for 2022).

There are also deductions for each child if you have multiple children attending preschool at the same time – in this case the maximum fee would be 1,048 kronor for the second child and 503 kronor for the third, with parents paying no fee for any further children.

Children over three are entitled to 15 hours of free preschool education per week, so these are deducted from your fee once your child reaches this age.

To get an idea of how much you would have to pay based on your income, you can use this calculator (in Swedish – similar calculators exist for other municipalities). These fees are adjusted yearly by the Swedish school authorities and are applicable to all municipalities. If your child has a preschool place, you have to pay even if you do not use it – over summer or during holidays, for example.

School meals and preschool meals are free in Sweden, meaning you don’t need to pay extra for your child’s lunch, breakfast, or any snacks served during the day.

State coverage of costs

According to 2016 figures, around half of the children in Norway in ISCED 0 programmes attended public pre-school, while the other half attended private "kindergartens." 

In Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, at least 80 percent of children attended public "kindergartens" in the same year, while the OECD average was 65 percent.

However, the SSB notes that the fact that roughly half of the children in ISCED 0 programmes in Norway attend private pre-school does not necessarily mean that Norwegian parents need to pay a larger share of the associated expenses. 

OECD figures for 2015 show that, in all the Nordic countries, the most significant share of the expenditure is covered through public sources – as much as 95, 85, 86 and 89 percent of the cost of ISCED 02 programmes were covered by public sources in Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and Finland, respectively. 

Here's a look at how the situation compares across Europe:

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2022/11/21 17:34

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