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Starting school and leaving welfare: the impact of public education on lone parents' welfare receipt

Author

Listed:
  • Mike Brewer

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Resolution Foundation)

  • Claire Crawford

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Birmingham)

Abstract

Please note: This paper was updated on 26 October 2010. Childcare costs are often viewed as one of the biggest barriers to work, particularly among lone parents on low incomes. Children in England are eligible to attend free part-time nursery classes (equivalent to pre-kindergarten) from the academic term after they turn 3, and are typically eligible to start free fulltime public education on 1 September after they turn four. These rules mean that children born one day apart may start nursery classes up to four months apart, and may start school up to one year apart. We exploit these discontinuities to investigate the impact of a youngest child being eligible for part-time nursery education and full-time primary education on welfare receipt and employment patterns amongst lone parents receiving welfare. In contrast to previous studies, we are able to estimate the precise timing (relative to the date on which part-time or full-time education begins) of any impact on labour supply, by using rich administrative data. Amongst those receiving welfare when their youngest child is aged approximately three and a half, we find a small but significant effect of free full-time public education on both employment and welfare receipt (of around 2 percentage points, or 10-15 per cent), which peaks eight to nine months after the child becomes eligible (aged approximately 4 years and 9 months). We find weaker evidence of an even smaller effect of eligibility for part-time nursery education. This suggests that the expansion of public education programmes to younger disadvantaged children may only encourage a small number of low income lone parents to return to work (although, of course, this is not the primary aim of such programmes).

Suggested Citation

  • Mike Brewer & Claire Crawford, 2010. "Starting school and leaving welfare: the impact of public education on lone parents' welfare receipt," IFS Working Papers W10/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:10/19
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mike Brewer & Sarah Cattan & Claire Crawford & Birgitta Rabe, 2016. "Does more free childcare help parents work more?," IFS Working Papers W16/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Martin Schlotter, 2012. "Educational Production in Preschools and Schools - Microeconometric Evidence from Germany," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 41, December.
    3. Sarah Cattan, 2016. "Can universal preschool increase the labor supply of mothers?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 312-312, November.
    4. Brewer, Mike & Cattan, Sarah & Crawford, Claire & Rabe, Birgitta, 2016. "Free Childcare and Parents' Labour Supply: Is More Better?," IZA Discussion Papers 10415, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Henning Finseraas & Inés Hardoy & Pål Schøne, 2017. "School enrolment and mothers’ labor supply: evidence from a regression discontinuity approach," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 621-638, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labour supply; school entry; regression discontinuity; lone parents; welfare receipt;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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