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Do child care subsidies influence single mothers' decision to invest in human capital?

  • Herbst, Chris M.
  • Tekin, Erdal

A child care subsidy is one of the most effective policy instruments to facilitate low-income individuals' transition from welfare to work. Although previous studies consistently find that subsidy receipt is associated with increased employment among single mothers, there is currently no evidence on the influence of these benefits on the decision to invest in human capital. Using data from the Kindergarten cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, this paper examines the impact of child care subsidy receipt on the likelihood of engaging in education and job training activities. We identify the impact of subsidy receipt by exploiting plausibly exogenous geographic variation in the distance that parents must travel from home in order to reach the nearest social service agency that administers the subsidy application process. Results suggest that child care subsidies encourage single mothers to engage in human capital investment. In particular, our instrumental variables estimates imply that subsidy receipt increases the likelihood that a single mother enrolls in courses at a school or university by 13 percentage points and participates in a job training program by 8 percentage points.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 901-912

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:5:p:901-912
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2010. "The Impact of Child Care Subsidies on Child Well-Being: Evidence from Geographic Variation in the Distance to Social Service Agencies," IZA Discussion Papers 5102, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Tekin, Erdal, 2002. "Child Care Subsidies, Wages, and Employment of Single Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. David M. Blau & Alison P. Hagy, 1998. "The Demand for Quality in Child Care," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 104-146, February.
  4. David Blau & Erdal Tekin, 2007. "The determinants and consequences of child care subsidies for single mothers in the USA," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 719-741, October.
  5. Tekin, Erdal, 2005. "Child care subsidy receipt, employment, and child care choices of single mothers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 1-6, October.
  6. 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.
  7. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2008. "Child Care Subsidies and Child Development," IZA Discussion Papers 3836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Herbst, Chris M., 2008. "Who are the eligible non-recipients of child care subsidies?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1037-1054, September.
  9. Paul M. Ong, 2002. "Car ownership and welfare-to-work," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 239-252.
  10. Chris Herbst, 2010. "The labor supply effects of child care costs and wages in the presence of subsidies and the earned income tax credit," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 199-230, June.
  11. LaDonna Pavetti & Gregory Acs, 2001. "Moving Up, Moving Out, or Going Nowhere? A Study of the Employment Patterns of Young Women and the Implications for Welfare Mothers," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 721-736.
  12. Jean Kimmel, 1998. "Child Care Costs As A Barrier To Employment For Single And Married Mothers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 287-299, May.
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