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Child care and female employment decisions: A theoretical note

  • Rammohan, Anu

The empirical literature is divided over the issue of whether child care costs are a significant barrier to female employment. In this paper we develop a theoretical model that contributes to the literature (1) by allocating mother's time between work, leisure and child care and (2) by introducing the possibility of uncertainty in second period income because of a greater probability of divorce. We examine how these changes affect decisions on labour supply and purchase of child care. We show that although an increase in the price of child care reduces the demand for child care, it has an ambiguous impact on female employment decisions. From a policy point of view, this implies that government subsidies aimed at mitigating the cost of child care, may not have their desired impact in encouraging greater female labour force participation. However, an increase in the probability of child care unambiguously increases female labour supply and purchase of child care.

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Paper provided by University of Sydney, School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 3.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:syd:wpaper:2123/7641
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  1. Ribar, D.C., 1993. "A Structural Model of Child Care and the Labor Supply of Married Women," Papers 5-93-1, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  2. Deborah Cobb-Clark & Amy Liu & Deborah Mitchell, 1999. "Reassessing the Role of Child Care Costs in the Work and Care Decisions of Australian Families," CEPR Discussion Papers 409, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  3. Deborah Schofield & Josh Polette, 1998. "Measuring the Impact of Child Care Subsidies on the Incomes of Mothers Returning to Work," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 31(1), pages 47-62.
  4. Hazel Bateman & John Piggott, 1997. "Private Pensions in OECD Countries: Australia," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 23, OECD Publishing.
  5. Connelly, Rachel, 1992. "The Effect of Child Care Costs on Married Women's Labor Force Participation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 83-90, February.
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