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The Impact of Non-Parental Child Care on Child Development: Evidence from the Summer Participation "Dip"

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  • Herbst, Chris M.

    ()
    (Arizona State University)

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    Abstract

    Although a large literature examines the effect of non-parental child care on preschool-aged children's cognitive development, few studies deal convincingly with the potential endogeneity of child care choices. Using a panel of infants and toddlers from the Birth cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-B), this paper attempts to provide causal estimates by leveraging heretofore unrecognized seasonal variation in child care participation. Child assessments in the ECLS-B were conducted on a rolling basis throughout the year, and I use the participation "dip" among those assessed during the summer as the basis for an instrumental variable. The summer participation "dip" is likely to be exogenous because ECLS-B administrators strictly controlled the mechanism by which children were assigned to assessment dates. The OLS results show that children utilizing non-parental arrangements score higher on tests of mental ability, a finding that holds after accounting for individual fixed effects. However, the instrumental variables estimates point to sizeable negative effects of non-parental care. The adverse effects are driven by participation in formal settings, and, contrary to previous research, I find that disadvantaged children do not benefit from exposure to non-parental child care settings.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7039.

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    Length: 75 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2012
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2013 [online first]
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7039

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    Keywords: child development; maternal employment; child care;

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