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Do Higher Childcare Subsidies Improve Parental Well-being? Evidence from Québec's Family Policies

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  • Abel Brodeur
  • Marie Connolly

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the effect of a change in childcare subsidies on parental subjective well-being. Starting in 1997, the Canadian province of Québec implemented a generous program providing $5-a-day childcare to children under the age of 5. By 2007, the percentage of children attending subsidized day care had tripled and mothers’ labor force participation had increased substantially. Objectively, more labor force participation is seen as a positive improvement, bringing with it higher income, independence and bargaining power. Yet a decrease in women’s subjective well-being over previous decades has been documented, perhaps due to a Second Shift effect where women work more but still bear the brunt of housework and childrearing (Hochschild and Machung, 1989). Using data from the Canadian General Social Survey, we estimate a triple-differences model using differences pre- and post- reforms between Québec and the rest of Canada and between parents with young children and those with older children. Our estimates suggest that Québec’s family policies led to a small decrease in parents’ subjective well-being. Of note, though, we find large and positive effects for poor household families and high school graduates and negative effects for middle household income families. We find similar negative effects on life satisfaction for both men and women, but different effects on satisfaction with work-life balance. This suggests that fathers’ life satisfaction could be influenced by their wives’ labor supply while their work-life balance is not.

Suggested Citation

  • Abel Brodeur & Marie Connolly, 2012. "Do Higher Childcare Subsidies Improve Parental Well-being? Evidence from Québec's Family Policies," Cahiers de recherche 1223, CIRPEE.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:1223
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    Cited by:

    1. Pia S. Schober & Christian Schmitt, 2013. "Day-Care Expansion and Parental Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 602, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Schober, Pia S. & Stahl, Juliane F., 2016. "Expansion of Full-Day Childcare and Subjective Well-Being of Mothers: Interdependencies with Culture and Resources," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 32(5), pages 593-606.
    3. Marie Connolly & Catherine Haeck, 2015. "Are Childcare Subsidies Good for Parental Well-being? Empirical Evidence from Three Countries," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(01), pages 09-15, April.
    4. Nikolett Somogyi & Wim Van Lancker & Rossella Ciccia & Sarah Van de Velde, 2021. "The Relationship between Familizing and Individualizing Policies and Mental Health in Parents in Europe," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 10(2), pages 1-16, February.
    5. Karine Torosyan & Norberto Pignatti, 2020. "Employment vs. Homestay and the Happiness of Women in the South Caucasus," Working Papers 2020-007, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    6. Mara Barschkett & Laia Bosque-Mercader, 2023. "Building Health across Generations: Unraveling the Impact of Early Childcare on Maternal Health," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 2059, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2015. "Non-Cognitive Deficits and Young Adult Outcomes: The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program," NBER Working Papers 21571, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Georg F. Camehl & C. Katharina Spieß & Kurt Hahlweg, 2019. "Short- and Mid-Term Effects of a Parenting Program on Maternal Well-Being: Evidence for More and Less Advantaged Mothers," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1062, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    9. Xiumin Hong & Jingyuan Wang & Wenting Zhu, 2022. "The Relationship between Childcare Services Participation and Parental Subjective Well-Being under China’s Three-Child Policy—Based on the Mediation Effect of Parenting Stress," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(24), pages 1-18, December.
    10. Marie Connolly & Catherine Haeck, 2015. "Are Childcare Subsidies Good for Parental Well-being? Empirical Evidence from Three Countries," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(1), pages 09-15, 04.
    11. Camehl, Georg & Hahlweg, Kurt & Spieß, C. Katharina, 2018. "The Effects of a Parenting Program on Maternal Well-Being: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," VfS Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181583, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Hong, Kai & Dragan, Kacie & Glied, Sherry, 2019. "Seeing and hearing: The impacts of New York City’s universal pre-kindergarten program on the health of low-income children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 93-107.
    13. Karine Torosyan & Norberto Pignatti, 2022. "Employment Versus Home-Stay and the Happiness of Women in the South Caucasus," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 23(8), pages 4027-4071, December.
    14. Maryam Dilmaghani & Vurain Tabvuma, 2022. "Fragile Families in Quebec and the Rest of Canada: A Comparison of Parental Work-Life Balance Satisfaction," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 41(2), pages 695-728, April.
    15. 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.
    16. Anna Cristina D’Addio & Simon Chapple & Andreas Hoherz & Bert Van Landeghem, 2014. "Using a quasi-natural experiment to identify the effects of birth-related leave policies on subjective well-being in Europe," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2013(1), pages 235-268.
    17. Laia Bosque-Mercader, 2022. "The Effect of a Universal Preschool Programme on Long-Term Health Outcomes: Evidence from Spain," Working Papers 2022-07, FEDEA.
    18. Bosque-Mercader, L.;, 2022. "The Effect of a Universal Preschool Programme on Long-Term Health Outcomes: Evidence from Spain," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 22/06, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    19. Halim,Daniel Zefanya & Perova,Elizaveta & Reynolds,Sarah, 2021. "Childcare and Mothers’ Labor Market Outcomes in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9828, The World Bank.
    20. Alexandra Kröll & Rainald Borck, 2013. "The Influence of Child Care on Maternal Health and Mother-Child Interaction," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 615, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    21. Brodeur, Abel & Wright, Taylor, 2019. "Terrorism, immigration and asylum approval," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 119-131.
    22. Sophia Schmitz, 2020. "The Impact of Publicly Funded Childcare on Parental Well-Being: Evidence from Cut-Off Rules," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 36(2), pages 171-196, April.
    23. Arne Risa Hole & Anita Ratcliffe, 2015. "The impact of the London bombings on the wellbeing of young Muslims," Working Papers 2015002, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    24. repec:ces:ifodic:v:13:y:2015:i:1:p:19160201 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Lin, Mengyun & Wang, Qing, 2019. "Center-based childcare expansion and grandparents' employment and well-being," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 240(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Childcare; labor supply; subjective well-being; life satisfaction; happiness; work-life balance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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