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The Effects of Daycare Reconsidered


  • Karen Norberg


Do children of employed mothers differ from other children, even before mother's (re)entry to the labor force? Preexisting differences among children may be an alternative explanation for many apparent daycare outcome effects. Data from the 1994 wave of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth were available for 6603 singleton infants followed from birth. Mothers of children with intrauterine growth retardation, birth defects, or extended hospitalization at birth began working significantly later after the birth of the child, and mothers of infants with higher development scores and more difficult temperament, and mothers of healthy premature infants, began working significantly earlier. The associations with newborn health persisted when the comparisons were made among siblings. The magnitudes of the effects were large enough to have practical importance. After controlling for both observed and unobserved differences between families, a mother was only 50% as likely to have been employed at all in the first five years after the birth of a high risk infant. About 20% of low-income newborns in the sample were classified as problems may therefore have resulted in a 10% lower labor force participation rate among low-income mothers of children under five.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen Norberg, 1998. "The Effects of Daycare Reconsidered," NBER Working Papers 6769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6769
    Note: CH

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hope Corman & Robert Kaestner, 1991. "The Effects of Child Health on Marital Status," NBER Working Papers 3850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Barbara L. Wolfe & Steven C. Hill, 1995. "The Effect of Health on the Work Effort of Single Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 42-62.
    3. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 143-162, August.
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    6. Sonalde Desai & P. L. Chase-Lansdale & Robert Michael, "undated". "Mother or Market? Effects of Maternal Employment on Cognitive Development of Four-year-old Children," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 88-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
    7. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
    8. David M. Blau & Alison P. Hagy, 1998. "The Demand for Quality in Child Care," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 104-146, February.
    9. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1988. "Heterogeneity, Intrafamily Distribution, and Child Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 437-461.
    10. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-481, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aizer, Anna, 2004. "Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1835-1848, August.
    2. Meng-Wen Tsou & Jin-Tan Liu & Kuang-Hsien Wang, 2014. "Impact of Low Birth Weight Child on Maternal Labour Force Participation: Evidence from Taiwan," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 483-501, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Morrill, Melinda Sandler, 2011. "The effects of maternal employment on the health of school-age children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 240-257, March.
    5. Raquel Bernal, 2004. "Employment and Child Care Decisions of Mothers and the Well-being of their Children," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 361, Econometric Society.
    6. David Zimmer, 2007. "Child Health and Maternal Work Activity: The Role of Unobserved Heterogeneity," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 43-64, Winter.
    7. Anna Zhu, 2016. "Maternal Employment Trajectories and Caring for an Infant or Toddler with a Disability," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n06, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.

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    JEL classification:

    • 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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