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Does subsidized care for toddlers increase maternal labor supply? Evidence from a large-scale expansion of early childcare

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  • Müller, Kai-Uwe
  • Wrohlich, Katharina

Abstract

Expanding public or publicly subsidized childcare has been a top social policy priority in many industrialized countries. It is supposed to increase fertility, promote children’s development and enhance mothers’ labor market attachment. In this paper, we analyze the causal effect of one of the largest expansions of subsidized childcare for children up to three years among industrialized countries on the employment of mothers in Germany. Identification is based on spatial and temporal variation in the expansion of publicly subsidized childcare triggered by two comprehensive childcare policy reforms. The empirical analysis is based on the German Microcensus that is matched to county level data on childcare availability. Based on our preferred specification which includes time and county fixed effects we find that an increase in childcare slots by one percentage point increases mothers’ labor market participation rate by 0.2 percentage points. The overall increase in employment is explained by the rise in part-time employment with relatively long hours (20–35 h per week). We do not find a change in full-time employment or lower part-time employment that is causally related to the childcare expansion. The effect is almost entirely driven by mothers with medium-level qualifications. Mothers with low education levels do not profit from this reform calling for a stronger policy focus on particularly disadvantaged groups in coming years.

Suggested Citation

  • Müller, Kai-Uwe & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2020. "Does subsidized care for toddlers increase maternal labor supply? Evidence from a large-scale expansion of early childcare," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:62:y:2020:i:c:s0927537119301125
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2019.101776
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    5. Huebener, Matthias & Waights, Sevrin & Spieß, C. Katharina & Siegel, Nico A. & Wagner, Gert G., 2021. "Parental well-being in times of Covid-19 in Germany," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 91-122.
    6. Mara Barschkett & C. Katharina Spiess & Elena Ziege, 2021. "Does Grandparenting Pay off for the Next Generations? Intergenerational Effects of Grandparental Care," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1152, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Matthias Krapf & Anja Roth & Michaela Slotwinski, 2020. "The Effect of Childcare on Parental Earnings Trajectories," CESifo Working Paper Series 8764, CESifo.
    8. Barkowski, Scott & McLaughlin, Joanne Song & Dai, Yinlin, 2020. "Young Children and Parents' Labor Supply during COVID-19," MPRA Paper 102107, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Jul 2020.
    9. Louis-Philippe Beland & Abel Brodeur & Derek Mikola & Taylor Wright, 2020. "COVID-19, Occupation Tasks and Mental Health in Canada," Carleton Economic Papers 20-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 30 Jun 2020.
    10. Barschkett, Mara & Spieß, C. Katharina & Ziege, Elena, 2021. "Does Grandparenting Pay off for the Next Generations? Intergenerational Effects of Grandparental Care," IZA Discussion Papers 14795, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Huebener, Mathias & Pape, Astrid & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2020. "Parental labour supply responses to the abolition of day care fees," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 510-543.
    12. Asakawa, Shinsuke & Sasaki, Masaru, 2020. "Can Childcare Benefits Increase Maternal Employment? Evidence from Childcare Benefits Policy in Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 13589, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Pierre Pora, 2020. "Keep Working and Spend Less? Collective Childcare and Parental Earnings in France," EconomiX Working Papers 2020-29, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    14. Zhang, Chi & Managi, Shunsuke, 2021. "Childcare availability and maternal employment: New evidence from Japan," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 83-105.
    15. Franz Neuberger & Tobias Rüttenauer & Martin Bujard, 2022. "Where does public childcare boost female labor force participation? Exploring geographical heterogeneity across Germany 2007–2017," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 46(24), pages 693-722.
    16. Claudia Hupkau & Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela, 2022. "Work and children in Spain: challenges and opportunities for equality between men and women," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 243-268, May.
    17. Gambaro, Ludovica & Neidhöfer, Guido & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2021. "The effect of early childhood education and care services on the integration of refugee families," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Childcare provision; Mother’s labor supply; Generalized difference-in-difference;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate

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