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U.S. ranks worst in the developed world for early child care, study shows

The U.S. may be the only country in the developed world that does not offer any paid maternity leave, according to a new report. Countries with half the GDP are more generous than the U.S. when it comes to offering financial support to new mothers, the report suggests.

Conducted by, a parenting website, the report analyzed the costs of early child care for women in 40 countries and how much time off they receive. The research used data sources from national statistics offices, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and Eurostat from 2020 and 2021. 

“We already knew that the U.S. had a zero maternity leave policy and wanted to understand just how normal that was compared to other developed countries,” said Katie Ren, the founder of “The results show that America is by far the worst country for childcare in the developed world.”

The U.S. is the only country on the list to offer zero paid maternity leave. Switzerland is the second worst for maternity leave, with only 14 weeks off paid 53.9% of full wage. Israel follows closely behind, where mothers can only take 15 weeks off; however, they are paid full wages. By contrast, the best countries for family leave in this ranking are the Slovak Republic (164 weeks), Finland (161 weeks) and Hungary (160 weeks). 

California, however, has its own paid family leave program, the first in the nation. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill that will raise the amount of money that workers receive under the state’s paid family and medical leave program, a boost that supporters say will ensure lower-wage workers are not blocked from the benefit, the Los Angeles Times reported. The state will pay up to 90% in wage replacement for all new parents and those who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill relative, starting in 2025. The rate is currently set at 60%-70%.