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Childcare Policy and Cognitive Outcomes of Children: Results from a Large Scale Quasi-Experiment on Universal Childcare in Canada

  • Pierre Lefebvre
  • Philip Merrigan
  • Matthieu Verstraete

Effects of a low-fee universal childcare policy, initiated in Québec, the second most populous province in Canada, on the cognitive development of preschool children are estimated with a sample of 4- and 5-year-olds (N=8,875; N=17,154). In 1997, licensed and regulated providers of childcare services began offering daycare spaces at the reduced fee of $5 per day per child for children aged 4. By 2000, the low-fee policy applied to all children aged 0 to 59 months (not in kindergarten). The study uses 6 cycles of biennial data drawn from Statistics Canada's National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (1994-2004) and quasi-experimental estimation methods to provide evidence that the policy had substantial negative effects on preschool children's Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test scores. The negative effects are found to be stronger for children with mothers who have lower levels of education.

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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0823.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0823
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  1. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Empirical Strategies in Labor Economics," Working papers 98-7, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2006. "Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being," Working Papers id:547, eSocialSciences.
  3. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2008. "Child-Care Policy and the Labor Supply of Mothers with Young Children: A Natural Experiment from Canada," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 519-548, 07.
  4. John M. Love & Ellen E. Kisker & Christine Ross & Helen Raikes & Jill Constantine & Kimberly Boller & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn & Rachel Chazan-Cohen & Louisa Banks Tarullo & Christy Brady-Smith & Allison Si, 2005. "The Effectiveness of Early Head Start for 3-Year-Old Children and Their Parents: Lessons for Policy and Programs," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 10736b794ab64be890ae75757, Mathematica Policy Research.
  5. Pierre Merrigan & Philip Lefebvre, 2002. "The Effect of Childcare and Early Education Arrangements on Developmental Outcomes of Young Children," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(2), pages 159-185, June.
  6. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  7. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
  8. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Loeb, Susanna & Bridges, Margaret & Bassok, Daphna & Fuller, Bruce & Rumberger, Russell W., 2007. "How much is too much? The influence of preschool centers on children's social and cognitive development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 52-66, February.
  10. Jane Waldfogel & Wen-Jui Han & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2002. "The effects of early maternal employment on child cognitive development," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 369-392, May.
  11. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2005. "Low-fee ($5/day/child) Regulated Childcare Policy and the Labor Supply of Mothers with Young Children: a Natural Experiment from Canada," Cahiers de recherche 0508, CIRPEE.
  12. repec:ese:iserwp:2004-13 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect of Child Care Characteristics on Child Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(4), pages 786-822.
  14. Lefebvre, Pierre & Merrigan, Philip & Verstraete, Matthieu, 2009. "Dynamic labour supply effects of childcare subsidies: Evidence from a Canadian natural experiment on low-fee universal child care," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 490-502, October.
  15. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2005. "The Québec's Experiment of $5 per Day per Child Childcare Policy and Mother's Labour Supply: Evidence Based on the Five Cycles of the NLSCY," CIRANO Project Reports 2005rp-21, CIRANO.
  16. Paul Gregg & Elizabeth Washbrook & Carol Propper & Simon Burgess, 2005. "The Effects of a Mother's Return to Work Decision on Child Development in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F48-F80, 02.
  17. David M. Blau, 2000. "Child Care Subsidy Programs," NBER Working Papers 7806, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  19. Francesconi, Marco & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2004. "The Consequences of ‘In-Work’ Benefit Reform in Britain: New Evidence from Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1248, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
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