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New estimates of the relationship between female labour supply and the cost, availability, and quality of child care


  • Xiaodong Gong

    (Treasury, Government of Australia)

  • Robert Breunig

    (Treasury, Government of Australia)

  • Anthony King

    (Treasury, Government of Australia)


This paper summarises new evidence from two Treasury working papers on the responsiveness of female labour supply to child care costs, availability, and quality. In one study, we drew on lessons from the literature and new detailed data to provide new estimates of the labour supply elasticity with respect to child care price for married women with young children. We found that, in contrast with previous Australian estimates, the cost of child care does have a statistically significant and negative effect on the labour supply of married mothers. This finding supports policy that reduces the costs of child care to encourage maternal labour supply. In a second study, we focused on the non-price factors and examined the impacts of subjective measures of the availability, quality, and affordability of child care on mothers’ labour supply. We found that, after controlling for other factors, in geographical areas with higher reports of difficulty with availability and quality (and affordability), women with young children work fewer hours and, in particular, are more likely to work part-time instead of full-time.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiaodong Gong & Robert Breunig & Anthony King, 2010. "New estimates of the relationship between female labour supply and the cost, availability, and quality of child care," Economic Roundup, The Treasury, Australian Government, issue 1, pages 51-62, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:tsy:journl:journl_tsy_er_2010_1_2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Guyonne Kalb & Wang-Sheng Lee, 2008. "Childcare Use And Parents' Labour Supply In Australia ," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 272-295, September.
    2. Stephen Whelan & Anu Rammohan, 2005. "Child Care and Female Decisions," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 8(2), pages 203-225, June.
    3. Denise Doiron & Guyonne Kalb, 2005. "Demands for Child Care and Household Labour Supply in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 81(254), pages 215-236, September.
    4. Rammohan, Anu, 2004. "Child care and female employment decisions: A theoretical note," Working Papers 3, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    5. Connelly, Rachel, 1992. "The Effect of Child Care Costs on Married Women's Labor Force Participation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 83-90, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Miguel Jaramillo-Baanante, 2017. "Fertility and women’s work in a demographic transition: evidence from Peru," Working Papers 2017-90, Peruvian Economic Association.

    More about this item


    child care; cost of living; female labour supply; female labour force participation;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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