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The Cost of Caring for Young Children

  • Dan T. Rosenbaum
  • Christopher J. Ruhm

This study examines the "cost burden" of child care, defined as day care expenses divided by after-tax income. Data are from the wave 10 core and child care topical modules to the 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation. We estimate that the average child under six years of age lives in a family that spends 4.9 percent of after-tax income on day care. However, this conceals wide variation: 63 percent of such children reside in families with no child care expenses and 10 percent are in families where the cost burden exceeds 16 percent. The burden is typically greater in single-parent than married-couple families but is not systematically related to a measure of socioeconomic status that we construct. One reason for this is that disadvantaged families use lower cost modes and pay less per hour for given types of care. The cost burden would be much less equal without low cost (presumably subsidized) formal care focused on needy families, as well as government tax and transfer policies that redistribute income towards them.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11837.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11837.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11837
Note: CH
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  1. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, The Earned Income Tax Credit, And The Labor Supply Of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114, August.
  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.
  3. Patricia M. Anderson & Phillip B. Levine, 1999. "Child Care and Mothers' Employment Decisions," JCPR Working Papers 64, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  4. Charles Michalopoulos & Philip K. Robins, 2000. "Employment and child-care choices in Canada and the United States," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(2), pages 435-470, May.
  5. Charles Michalopoulos & Philip K. Robins & Irwin Garfinkel, 1992. "A Structural Model of Labor Supply and Child Care Demand," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(1), pages 166-203.
  6. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  7. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
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