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Public Preschool and Maternal Labor Supply: Evidence from the Introduction of Kindergartens into American Public Schools

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  • Elizabeth Cascio

Abstract

Beginning in the mid-1960s, many state governments, particularly in the South and West, began to subsidize kindergartens for the first time. These initiatives generated wide variation across states over time in the supply of seats for five year olds in public schools. This paper uses the staggered timing and age-targeting of these preschool expansions to examine how the provision of universal child care through public schools affects maternal labor supply. I find that single women with five year olds but no younger children were more likely to be employed once kindergartens were available. The estimated effect is large, implying that three mothers entered the labor force for every ten children enrolled in public school. By contrast, I detect no significant labor supply response among other single women with eligible children or among married mothers of five year olds. These findings complement other research suggesting that preschools targeted toward at-risk populations, such as children in single-parent families, are more cost effective than universal programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Cascio, 2006. "Public Preschool and Maternal Labor Supply: Evidence from the Introduction of Kindergartens into American Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 12179, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12179
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian, 2007. "The effect of a large expansion of pre-primary school facilities on preschool attendance and maternal employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 665-680, June.
    2. Patricia M. Anderson & Philip B. Levine, 1999. "Child Care and Mothers' Employment Decisions," NBER Working Papers 7058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2011. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 158-195, February.
    4. Jerry Hausman, 2001. "Mismeasured Variables in Econometric Analysis: Problems from the Right and Problems from the Left," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 57-67, Fall.
    5. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2008. "Universal Child Care, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 709-745, August.
    6. Blau, David & Currie, Janet, 2006. "Pre-School, Day Care, and After-School Care: Who's Minding the Kids?," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    7. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
    8. Rosenbaum, Dan T. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "The Cost of Caring for Young Children," IZA Discussion Papers 1860, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
    10. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Mike Brewer & Claire Crawford, 2010. "Starting School And Leaving Welfare: The Impact of Public Education on Lone Parents' Welfare Receipt," CEE Discussion Papers 0121, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    3. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian, 2007. "The effect of a large expansion of pre-primary school facilities on preschool attendance and maternal employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 665-680, June.
    4. Havnes, Tarjei & Mogstad, Magne, 2011. "Money for nothing? Universal child care and maternal employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1455-1465.
    5. Chikako Yamauchi, 2010. "The availability of child care centers, perceived search costs and parental life satisfaction," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 231-253, June.
    6. Richard Blundell & Claire Crawford & Wenchao Jin, 2014. "What Can Wages and Employment Tell Us about the UK's Productivity Puzzle?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(576), pages 377-407, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Villena, Mauricio G. & Sanchez, Rafael & Rojas, Eugenio, 2011. "Unintended Consequences of Childcare Regulation in Chile: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," MPRA Paper 62096, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Feb 2015.
    9. Matias Busso & Dario Romero Fonseca, 2015. "Female Labor Force Participation in Latin America: Patterns and Explanations," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0187, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    10. Heinrich Hock & Delia Furtado, 2009. "Female Work and Fertility in the United States: Effects of Low-Skilled Immigrant Labor," Working papers 2009-20, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    11. Dante Contreras & Esteban Puentes & David Bravo, 2012. "Female Labor Supply and Child Care Supply in Chile," Working Papers wp370, University of Chile, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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