Quality and Cost in Early Childhood Education
This paper uses a unique survey of 205 child care centers conducted by the U.S. General Accounting Office to estimate flexible-form cost functions for child care. Our model allows us to estimate the tradeoff between cost and such quality factors as the child/staff ratio, child group size, and staff characteristics. The coefficient on the child/staff ratio indicates that decreasing the average child/staff ratio from, for instance, an 11 to 1 ratio to a 10 to 1 ratio, would lead to an increase in costs of roughly 3.4 percent. Staff turnover, education, and experience also had statistically significant effects on cost.