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Accidents Will Happen? Unintentional Injury, Maternal Employment, and Child Care Policy


  • Janet Currie
  • V. Joseph Hotz


In western countries, accidents are the leading cause of death and injury among children, far surpassing diseases as a health threat. We examine the effect of maternal employment and child care policy on rates of accidental injury using both micro data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and Vital Statistics records. We find that the effects of maternal employment on unintentional injuries to children vary by demographic group, with the effects being positive for blacks and negative for whites in models that control for child-specific fixed effects. Estimates from both individual-level NLSY and Vital Statistics data suggest that the effects of maternal employment may be mediated by child care regulations. Most notably, requiring training beyond high school for caregivers reduces the incidence of both fatal and non-fatal accidents. Other types of regulation have mixed effects on unintentional injuries, suggesting that child care regulations create winners and losers. In particular, while some children may benefit from safer environments, others that appear to be squeezed out of the more expensive regulated sector and are placed at higher risks of injury.

Suggested Citation

  • Janet Currie & V. Joseph Hotz, 2001. "Accidents Will Happen? Unintentional Injury, Maternal Employment, and Child Care Policy," NBER Working Papers 8090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8090
    Note: CH

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bassok, Daphna & Fitzpatrick, Maria & Loeb, Susanna, 2014. "Does state preschool crowd-out private provision? The impact of universal preschool on the childcare sector in Oklahoma and Georgia," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 18-33.
    2. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2007. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 159-208.
    3. Colm Harmon & Claire Finn & Arnaud Chevalier & Tarja Viitanen, 2006. "The economics of early childhood care and education : technical research paper for the National Economic and Social Forum," Open Access publications 10197/671, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    4. Andrea Ichino & Anna Sanz De Galdeano, 2004. "Reconciling Motherhood and Work: Evidence from Time Use Data in Three Countries," CSEF Working Papers 114, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    5. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


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