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Child Care, Maternal Employment and Persistence: A Natural Experiment from Spain

  • Nollenberger, Natalia

    ()

    (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Rodríguez-Planas, Núria

    ()

    (Queens College, CUNY)

Reconciling work and family is high on many governments' agenda, especially in countries, such as Spain, with record-low fertility and female labor force participation rates. This paper analyzes the effects of a large-scale provision of publicly subsidized child care in Spain in the early 1990s, addressing the impact on mothers’ short- and long-run employment outcomes (up to four years after the child was eligible to participate in the program). Exploiting the staggered timing and age-targeting of this child-care expansion, our estimates show that the policy led to a sizable increase in employment (8%), and hours worked (9%) of mothers with age-eligible (3-year-old) children, and that these effects persisted over time. Heterogeneity matters. While persistence is strong among mothers with a high-school degree, the effects of the program on maternal employment quickly fade away among those without a high-school degree. These findings are consistent with the program reducing the depreciation of human capital. The lack of any results among college educated mothers, which represent less than one tenth of mothers, is most likely due to the fact that they are able to pay day care (even when it is mainly privately supplied), and that most of them are already strongly attached to the labor force.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5888.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5888
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  2. Gordon Cleveland & Morley Gunderson & Douglas Hyatt, 1996. "Child Care Costs and the Employment Decision of Women: Canadian Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 132-51, February.
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  17. Kimmel, Jean, 1995. "The Effectiveness of Child-Care Subsidies in Encouraging the Welfare-to-Work Transition of Low-Income Single Mothers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 271-75, May.
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  19. Ribar, D.C., 1993. "A Structural Model of Child Care and the Labor Supply of Married Women," Papers 5-93-1, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
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  21. Susan L. Averett & Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2000. "Female Labor Supply With A Discontinuous, Nonconvex Budget Constraint: Incorporation Of A Part-Time/Full-Time Wage Differential," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(3), pages 461-470, August.
  22. Sánchez-Mangas, Rocio & Sánchez-Marcos, Virginia, 2008. "Balancing family and work: The effect of cash benefits for working mothers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1127-1142, December.
  23. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
  24. Lundin, Daniela & Mörk, Eva & Öckert, Björn, 2008. "How far can reduced childcare prices push female labour supply?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 647-659, August.
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