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Preschool and maternal labour market outcomes: evidence from a regression discontinuity design

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  • Samuel Berlinski

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College, London)

  • Sebastian Galiani
  • Patrick J. McEwan

Abstract

Expanding preschool education has the dual goals of improving child outcomes and work incentives for mothers. This paper provides evidence on the second, identifying the impact of preschool attendance on maternal labor market outcomes in Argentina. A major challenge in identifying the causal effect of preschool attendance on parental outcomes is non-random selection into early education. We address this by relying on plausibly exogenous variation in preschool attendance that is induced when children are born on either side of Argentina's enrollment cutoff date of July 1. Because of enrollment cutoff dates, 4 year-olds born just before July 1 are 0.3 more likely to attend preschool. Our regression-discontinuity estimates compare maternal employment outcomes of 4 year-old children on either side of this cutoff, identifying effects among the subset of complying households (who are perhaps more likely to face constraints on their level 2 preschool attendance). Our findings suggest that, on average, 13 mothers start to work for every 100 youngest children in the household that start preschool (though, in our preferred specification, this estimate is not statistically significant at conventional levels). Furthermore, mothers are 19.1 percentage points more likely to work for more than 20 hours a week (i.e., more time than their children spend in school) and they work, on average, 7.8 more hours per week as consequence of their youngest offspring attending preschool. We find no effect on maternal labor outcomes when a child that is not the youngest in the household attends preschool. Finally, we find that at the point of transition from kindergarten to primary school some employment effects persist. Our preferred estimates condition on mother's schooling and other exogenous covariates, given evidence that mothers' schooling is unbalanced in the vicinity of the July 1 cutoff in the sample of 4 year-olds. Using a large set of natality records, we found no evidence that this is due to precise birth date manipulation by parents. Other explanations, like sample selection, are also not fully consistent with the data, and we must remain agnostic on this point. Despite this shortcoming, the credibility of the estimates is partly enhanced by the consistency of point estimates with Argentine research using a different EPH sample and sources of variation in preschool attendance (Berlinski and Galiani 2007). A growing body of research suggests that pre-primary school can improve educational outcomes for children in the short and long run (Blau and Currie 2006; Schady 2006). This paper provides further evidence that, ceteris paribus , an expansion in preschool education may enhance the employment prospects of mothers of children in preschool age.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W09/05.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:09/05

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Keywords: Female labor supply; Argentina; regression-discontinuity; kindergarten.;

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  1. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  2. Samuel Berlinski & Sebastian Galiani & Marco Manacorda, 2007. "Giving Children a Better Start: Preschool Attendance and School-Age Profiles," Working Papers 618, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  3. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2002. "Public Schooling for Young Children and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 307-322, March.
  4. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2008. "Universal Child Care, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 709-745, 08.
  5. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
  6. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
  7. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Patrick J. McEwan & Joseph S. Shapiro, 2008. "The Benefits of Delayed Primary School Enrollment: Discontinuity Estimates Using Exact Birth Dates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  9. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian, 2007. "The effect of a large expansion of pre-primary school facilities on preschool attendance and maternal employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 665-680, June.
  10. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2011. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 158-95, February.
  11. Norbert Schady, 2006. "Early Childhood Development in Latin America and the Caribbean," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  12. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  13. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
  14. Browning, Martin, 1992. "Children and Household Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1434-75, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Stefan Bauernschuster & Martin Schlotter, 2013. "Public Child Care and Mothers' Labor Supply - Evidence from Two Quasi-Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 4191, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Mike Brewer & Claire Crawford, 2010. "Starting school and leaving welfare: the impact of public education on lone parents' welfare receipt," IFS Working Papers W10/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. World Bank, 2012. "A Gender (R)evolution in the Making? Expanding Women's Economic Opportunities in Central America : A Decade in Review," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12468, The World Bank.
  4. 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.
  5. World Bank, 2011. "Work and Family : Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12489, The World Bank.
  6. Habibov, Nazim, 2012. "Early childhood care and education attendance in Central Asia," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 798-806.

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