It may not come as a surprise, yet today the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has issued its first official figures on something that we have been suspecting for a long time: 4 out of 10 Irish families with children under the age of five are better off on the dole! To blame are expenses for childcare, transport, lunch and clothing.
With Ireland being the country with the highest costs for childcare in the Western World (!) according to an OECD survey, even families with two incomes inevitably find themselves facing the question: "Should one of us stay at home or go to work?"
As a matter of fact, childcare eats up up to one third of a family's monthly income and choosing work over staying at home simply does not pay off financially in many cases.
It is not only women who are affected by "stay at home parent being". Previous Celtic Tiger years have left a bitter aftertaste and many builders who once used to be the family's breadwinners now find themselves in the role of a house husband.
Understandably enough, not everyone is embracing their role, which often goes hand in hand with yet another difficult decision: "Should I stay in Ireland or should I go and support my family from abroad?"
Speaking from my own experience, mixed-race families where one of the parents has not been living in Ireland long enough to build up sufficient tax credits to be eligible for social welfare, are facing these problems on a daily basis.
As for my own situation, I have been commuting jobwise between Germany and Ireland for the past nine months and finally found a place in a German creche for Aviva. Over here, creches are subsidized and both the parents' wages are taken into consideration so you only pay what you can afford to.
It's not like it's all doom and gloom in Ireland though!
According to the ESRI, their paper on the costs of working in Ireland is only a "work in progress" and its "underlying analysis required major revision". Sounds like someone is trying to rub their eyes at a reality who they wish to be a bad dream. No worries, ESRI! You've done your homework. Now it is up to the government to do theirs!