IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/pubeco/v127y2015icp100-114.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Is universal child care leveling the playing field?

Author

Listed:
  • Havnes, Tarjei
  • Mogstad, Magne

Abstract

We assess the case for universal child care programs in the context of a Norwegian reform which led to a large-scale expansion of subsidized child care. We use non-linear difference-in-differences methods to estimate the quantile treatment effects of the reform. We find that the effects of the child care expansion were positive in the lower and middle parts of the earnings distribution of exposed children as adults, and negative in the uppermost part. We complement this analysis with local linear regressions of the child care effects by family income. We find that most of the gains in earnings associated with the universal child care program relate to children of low income parents, whereas upper-class children actually experience a loss in earnings. In line with the differential effects by family income, we estimate that the universal child care program substantially increased intergenerational income mobility. To interpret the estimated heterogeneity in child care effects, we examine the mediating role of educational attainment and cognitive test scores, and show that our estimates are consistent with a simple model where parents make a tradeoff between current family consumption and investment in children. Taken together, our findings could have important implications for the policy debate over universal child care programs, suggesting that the benefits of providing subsidized child care to middle and upper-class children are unlikely to exceed the costs. Our study also points to the importance of universal child care programs in explaining differences in earnings inequality and income mobility across countries and over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Havnes, Tarjei & Mogstad, Magne, 2015. "Is universal child care leveling the playing field?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 100-114.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:127:y:2015:i:c:p:100-114
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.04.007
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272714000899
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James J. Heckman & Stefano Mosso, 2014. "The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 689-733, August.
    2. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 988-1012, September.
    3. James J. Heckman & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2007. "Econometric Evaluation of Social Programs, Part II: Using the Marginal Treatment Effect to Organize Alternative Econometric Estimators to Evaluate Social Programs, and to Forecast their Effects in New," Handbook of Econometrics,in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 71 Elsevier.
    4. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J., 2011. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2010. "Child care subsidies and child development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 618-638, August.
    6. Sergio Firpo, 2007. "Efficient Semiparametric Estimation of Quantile Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 259-276, January.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    10. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Katrine V. L�ken & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2014. "Care or Cash? The Effect of Child Care Subsidies on Student Performance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 824-837, December.
    11. 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, August.
    12. Esther Duflo, 2001. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 795-813, September.
    13. Joshua D. Angrist & Kevin Lang, 2004. "Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1613-1634, December.
    14. 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.
    15. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey Smith & Nancy Clements, 1997. "Making The Most Out Of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting For Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535.
    16. Tarjei Havnes & Magne Mogstad, 2011. "No Child Left Behind: Subsidized Child Care and Children's Long-Run Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 97-129, May.
    17. repec:oup:revage:v:29:y:2007:i:3:p:446-493. is not listed on IDEAS
    18. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 446-493.
    19. Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Identification and Inference in Nonlinear Difference-in-Differences Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 431-497, March.
    20. 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.
    21. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Simonsen, Marianne, 2010. "Non-cognitive child outcomes and universal high quality child care," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 30-43, February.
    22. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    23. Sergio Firpo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Unconditional Quantile Regressions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 953-973, May.
    24. Aaberge, Rolf, 1997. "Interpretation of changes in rank-dependent measures of inequality," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 215-219, August.
    25. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan & Matthieu Verstraete, 2008. "Childcare Policy and Cognitive Outcomes of Children: Results from a Large Scale Quasi-Experiment on Universal Childcare in Canada," Cahiers de recherche 0823, CIRPEE.
    26. Baker, Michael, 2011. "Universal Early Childhood Interventions: What is the Evidence Base?," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2011-29, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 28 Nov 2011.
    27. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian & Gertler, Paul, 2009. "The effect of pre-primary education on primary school performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 219-234, February.
    28. Abadie, Alberto & Diamond, Alexis & Hainmueller, Jens, 2010. "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California’s Tobacco Control Program," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 105(490), pages 493-505.
    29. 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.
    30. Elizabeth U. Cascio, 2009. "Maternal Labor Supply and the Introduction of Kindergartens into American Public Schools," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    31. Michael Baker, 2011. "Innis Lecture: Universal early childhood interventions: what is the evidence base?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1069-1105, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Universal child care; Child development; Non-linear difference-in-differences; Heterogeneity; Quantile treatment effects; Income mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:127:y:2015:i:c:p:100-114. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.