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Starting School And Leaving Welfare: The Impact of Public Education on Lone Parents' Welfare Receipt

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  • Mike Brewer
  • Claire Crawford

Abstract

Childcare costs are often viewed as one of the biggest barriers to work, particularly among lone parents on low incomes. Children in England are eligible to attend free part-time nursery classes (equivalent to pre-kindergarten) from the academic term after they turn 3, and are typically eligible to start free full-time public education on 1 September after they turn four. These rules mean that children born one day apart may start nursery classes up to four months apart, and may start school up to one year apart. We exploit these discontinuities to investigate the impact of a youngest child being eligible for part-time nursery education and full-time primary education on welfare receipt and employment patterns amongst lone parents receiving welfare. In contrast to previous studies, we are able to estimate the precise timing (relative to the date on which part-time or full-time education begins) of any impact on labour supply, by using rich administrative data. Amongst those receiving welfare when their youngest child is aged approximately three and a half, we find a small but significant effect of free full-time public education on both employment and welfare receipt (of around 2 percentage points, or 10-15 per cent), which peaks eight to nine months after the child becomes eligible (aged approximately 4 years and 9 months). We find weaker evidence of an even smaller effect of eligibility for part-time nursery education. This suggests that the expansion of public education programmes to younger disadvantaged children may only encourage a small number of low income lone parents to return to work (although, of course, this is not the primary aim of such programmes).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0121.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0121

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Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

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Keywords: labour supply; school entry; regression discontinuity; lone parents; welfare receipt;

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  1. Maria Fitzpatrick, 2008. "Preschoolers Enrolled and Mothers at Work? The Effects of Universal Pre-Kindergarten," Working Papers 08-04, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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Cited by:
  1. Martin Schlotter, 2012. "Educational Production in Preschools and Schools - Microeconometric Evidence from Germany," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 41, 8.

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