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Can’t buy mommy’s love? Universal childcare and children’s long-term cognitive development

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  • Christina Felfe
  • Natalia Nollenberger
  • Núria Rodríguez-Planas

Abstract

What happens to children’s long-run cognitive development when introducing universal high-quality childcare for 3-year-olds mainly crowds out family care? To answer this question, we take advantage of a sizeable expansion of publicly subsidized full-time high-quality childcare for 3-year-olds in Spain in the early 1990s. Identification relies on variation in the initial speed of the expansion of childcare slots across states. Using a difference-in-difference approach, we find strong evidence for sizeable improvements in children’s reading skills at age 15 (0.15 standard deviation) and weak evidence for a reduction in grade retentions during primary school (2.5 percentage points). The effects are driven by girls and disadvantaged children. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Felfe & Natalia Nollenberger & Núria Rodríguez-Planas, 2015. "Can’t buy mommy’s love? Universal childcare and children’s long-term cognitive development," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(2), pages 393-422, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:28:y:2015:i:2:p:393-422
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-014-0532-x
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Universal high-quality childcare; Long-term consequences; Cognitive skills; J13; I28;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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