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For all providers, the largest expense is labor. In a 1999 Canadian survey of formal child care centers, labor accounted for 63% of costs and the industry had an average profit of 5.3%. Given the labor-intensive nature of the industry, it is not surprising that the same survey showed little economies of scale between larger and smaller operators.
Childcare varies dramatically across cultures. These discrepancies are attributed to the homestead and household environments. That is, the type of work performed by adult caretakers in a given community strongly influence the type of childcare used. In agricultural/ horticultural societies where work is done to provide sustenance for the community, siblings and similar-aged children are responsible for younger children. While many global communities prefer children aged 7–10 for designated caregiving responsibilities, children no younger than 12 are preferred in the Western world where paid childcare is common.