The study, called 'A Bit Rich', calls for a new way of looking at the value of work, beyond how much people earn to how much their jobs contribute to society.
The report says, 'It is time to apply a different way of thinking to the value generated by different types of work. We should be looking beyond the narrow definition of economic productivity to calculate the broader social and environmental value of the work we do.'
By examining the potential of making universal childcare available with funded parental leave, the research calculates a net return of £612billion over 20 years, equivalent to an annual net benefit of £30billion.
The report highlights the public's dissatisfaction with a system that rewards bankers with vast bonuses. It compares three low-paid jobs - childcare worker, hospital cleaner and recycling plant worker - with the higher paid roles of a city banker, an advertising executive and a tax accountant.
The report says, 'Both for families and for society as a whole, looking after children could not be more important. As well as providing a valuable service for families, childcare workers release earnings potential by allowing parents to continue working. They also unlock social benefits in the shape of the learning opportunities that children gain outside the home. For every £1 they are paid, childcare workers generate between £7 and £9.50 worth of benefits to society.'
High-earning city bankers, meanwhile, the report claims, 'rather than being "wealth creators"... are being handsomely rewarded for bringing the global financial system to the brink of collapse. While collecting salaries of between £500,000 and £10m, leading City bankers destroy £7 of social value for every pound in value they generate.'
Tricia Pritchard, senior professional officer at Voice, the union for education professionals, said it was time for the Government, local authorities and employers to 'sit up and take notice'.
She said, 'For too long, childcare professionals have been overlooked, underpaid and taken for granted. We are delighted that this report recognises the value of childcare to society and takes a fresh look at how we recognise and reward different professions.'
'A Bit Rich - Calculating the value to society of different professions' is at www.neweconomics.org/publications/bit-rich