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Revising Our Thinking About the Relationship Between Maternal Labor Supply and Preschool

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  • Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick

Abstract

Many argue that childcare costs limit the labor supply of mothers, though existing evidence has been mixed. Using a child’s eligibility for public kindergarten in a regression discontinuity instrumental variables framework, I estimate how use of a particular subsidy, public school, affects maternal labor supply. I find public school enrollment increases only the employment of single mothers without additional young children. I compare this result to previous work, focusing on striking increases in a similar setting but earlier period (Gelabch 2002). Differences in the population of mothers, labor supply, and patterns of lifecycle events likely drive the discrepancy in results.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick, 2012. "Revising Our Thinking About the Relationship Between Maternal Labor Supply and Preschool," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 583-612.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:46:y:2012:iii:1:p:583-612
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bradley T. Heim, 2007. "The Incredible Shrinking Elasticities: Married Female Labor Supply, 1978–2002," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
    2. 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.
    3. Blau, David M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2001. "The Determinants and Consequences of Child Care Subsidies for Single Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 383, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Todd E. Elder & Darren H. Lubotsky, 2009. "Kindergarten Entrance Age and Children’s Achievement: Impacts of State Policies, Family Background, and Peers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
    5. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2007. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980–2000," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 393-438.
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