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Public Preschool and Maternal Labor Supply: Evidence from the Introduction of Kindergartens into American Public Schools

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  • Elizabeth Cascio

Abstract

Beginning in the mid-1960s, many state governments, particularly in the South and West, began to subsidize kindergartens for the first time. These initiatives generated wide variation across states over time in the supply of seats for five year olds in public schools. This paper uses the staggered timing and age-targeting of these preschool expansions to examine how the provision of universal child care through public schools affects maternal labor supply. I find that single women with five year olds but no younger children were more likely to be employed once kindergartens were available. The estimated effect is large, implying that three mothers entered the labor force for every ten children enrolled in public school. By contrast, I detect no significant labor supply response among other single women with eligible children or among married mothers of five year olds. These findings complement other research suggesting that preschools targeted toward at-risk populations, such as children in single-parent families, are more cost effective than universal programs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12179.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Publication status: published as Cascio, Elizabeth, 2009. "Maternal Labor Supply and the Introduction of Kindergartens into American Public Schools." The Journal of Human Resources, 44(1), 140-170, Winter 2009.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12179

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  1. Samuel Berlinski & Sebastian Galiani, 2004. "The effect of a large expansion of pre-primary school facilities on preschool attendance and maternal employment," IFS Working Papers W04/30, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
  3. Blau, David & Currie, Janet, 2006. "Pre-School, Day Care, and After-School Care: Who's Minding the Kids?," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  4. Jerry Hausman, 2001. "Mismeasured Variables in Econometric Analysis: Problems from the Right and Problems from the Left," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 57-67, Fall.
  5. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2005. "Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 11832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Dan T. Rosenbaum & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2005. "The Cost of Caring for Young Children," NBER Working Papers 11837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  9. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
  10. Patricia M. Anderson & Phillip B. Levine, 1999. "Child Care and Mothers' Employment Decisions," JCPR Working Papers 64, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Lundin, Daniela & Mörk, Eva & Öckert, Björn, 2008. "How far can reduced childcare prices push female labour supply?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 647-659, August.
  2. Dante Contreras & Esteban Puentes & David Bravo, 2012. "Female Labor Supply and Child Care Supply in Chile," Working Papers wp370, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
  3. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan & Matthieu Verstraete, 2008. "Dynamic Labour Supply Effects of Childcare Subsidies: Evidence from a Canadian Natural Experiment on Low-Fee Universal Child Care," Cahiers de recherche 0824, CIRPEE.
  4. Sebastian Galiani & Samuel Berlinski, 2005. "The Effect of a Large Expansion of Pre-Primary School Facilities on Preschool Attendance and Maternal Employment," Working Papers 77, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Aug 2005.
  5. Mike Brewer & Claire Crawford, 2010. "Starting School And Leaving Welfare: The Impact of Public Education on Lone Parents' Welfare Receipt," CEE Discussion Papers 0121, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. Havnes, Tarjei & Mogstad, Magne, 2011. "Money for nothing? Universal child care and maternal employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1455-1465.
  7. Chikako Yamauchi, 2010. "The availability of child care centers, perceived search costs and parental life satisfaction," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 231-253, June.
  8. Richard Blundell & Claire Crawford & Wenchao (Michelle) Jin, 2013. "What can wages and employment tell us about the UK's productivity puzzle?," IFS Working Papers W13/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Heinrich Hock & Delia Furtado, 2009. "Female Work and Fertility in the United States: Effects of Low-Skilled Immigrant Labor," Working papers 2009-20, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

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