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The Impact of Child Care Subsidies on Child Well-Being: Evidence from Geographic Variation in the Distance to Social Service Agencies

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  • Chris M. Herbst
  • Erdal Tekin

Abstract

In recent years, child care subsidies have become an integral part of federal and state efforts to move economically disadvantaged parents from welfare to work. Although previous empirical studies consistently show that these employment-related subsidies raise work levels among this group, little is known about the impact of subsidy receipt on child wellbeing. In this paper, we identify the causal effect of child care subsidies on child development by exploiting geographic variation in the distance that families must travel from home in order to reach the nearest social service agency that administers the subsidy application process. Using data from the Kindergarten cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, our instrumental variables estimates suggest that children receiving subsidized care in the year before kindergarten score lower on tests of cognitive ability and reveal more behavior problems throughout kindergarten. However, these negative effects largely disappear by the time children reach the end of third grade. Our results point to an unintended consequence of a child care subsidy regime that conditions eligibility on parental employment and deemphasizes child care quality. [IZA DP No. 5102]

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  • Chris M. Herbst & Erdal Tekin, 2010. "The Impact of Child Care Subsidies on Child Well-Being: Evidence from Geographic Variation in the Distance to Social Service Agencies," Working Papers id:2739, eSocialSciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:2739
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chris Herbst & Erdal Tekin, 2012. "Child Care Subsidies, Maternal Well-Being, and Child-Parent Interactions: Evidence from Three Nationally Representative Datasets," Working Papers 1372, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    2. 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.
    3. Herbst, Chris M., 2013. "Universal Child Care, Maternal Employment, and Children's Long-Run Outcomes: Evidence from the U.S. Lanham Act of 1940," IZA Discussion Papers 7846, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2012. "The geographic accessibility of child care subsidies and evidence on the impact of subsidy receipt on childhood obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 37-52.
    5. Clive R. Belfield & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2012. "The Benefits of Breast Feeding across the Early Years of Childhood," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 251-277.
    6. Guner, Nezih & Kaygusuz, Remzi & Ventura, Gustavo, 2013. "Childcare Subsidies and Household Labor Supply," CEPR Discussion Papers 9775, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2011. "Do child care subsidies influence single mothers' decision to invest in human capital?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 901-912, October.
    8. Chris M. Herbst & Erdal Tekin, 2014. "Child Care Subsidies, Maternal Health, And Child–Parent Interactions: Evidence From Three Nationally Representative Datasets," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(8), pages 894-916, August.
    9. Lipscomb, Shannon T. & Lewis, Kendra M. & Masyn, Katherine E. & Meloy, Mary Elizabeth, 2012. "Child care assistance for families involved in the child welfare system: Predicting child care subsidy use and stability," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2454-2463.
    10. Herbst, Chris M., 2014. "Are Parental Welfare Work Requirements Good for Disadvantaged Children? Evidence from Age-of-Youngest-Child Exemptions," IZA Discussion Papers 8485, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Herbst, Chris M., 2012. "The Impact of Non-Parental Child Care on Child Development: Evidence from the Summer Participation "Dip"," IZA Discussion Papers 7039, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Erdal Tekin, 2014. "Childcare subsidy policy: What it can and cannot accomplish," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-43, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    child care; subsidy; development; kindergarten; federal; geographic variation;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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