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Canadian Evidence on Ten Years of Universal Preschool Policies: the Good and the Bad

  • Catherine Haeck
  • Pierre Lefebvre
  • Philip Merrigan

More than ten years ago, to increase mothers’ participation in the labour market and to enhance child development, the province of Québec implemented a $5 per day universal childcare policy. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the costs and benefits of the program over that period. A non-experimental evaluation framework based on multiple pre- and post-treatment periods is used to estimate the policy effects. We find that the reform had important and lasting effects on the number of children aged 1 to 4 attending childcare and the numbers of hours they spend in daycare. For children aged 5, we uncovered strong evidence that implementing full-day kindergarten alone was not enough to increase maternal labour force participation and weeks worked, but when combined with the low-fee daycare program it was, and these effects were also long lasting. Our results on cognitive development suggest that the school setting is more successful in raising children’s cognitive ability than the daycare setting. Finally, we show that the fiscal costs were most likely larger than the benefits.

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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 1334.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:1334
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