I found this infographic from Aupairgarden.com fascinating–especially the variation in au pair salaries (or stipends, depending on your perspective) from around the world.
Of course, this poster can’t give the whole picture. For example, although the USA appears to pay better than most countries, au pairs in the US are required to work up to 45 hours a week, while au pairs in most European countries work between 20 and 30 hours. For comparison’s sake, as an au pair in Austria, I will receive approximately 120 euro per week, for 20 hours of work. That’s a lot better than $200 for 45 hours!
Also, there seem to be some significant cultural differences in the way that au pairs are viewed. In Austria, for example, au pairs are considered employees, and receive 5 weeks of paid vacation per year and other associated benefits. In other countries (like Germany and Italy) an au pair receives “pocket money” during her cultural exchange, rather than a salary for a job being performed. It’s a different perspective, and something to really think about before/when becoming an au pair in those countries.
What do you think? What is the function of an au pair in your culture?