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Does early child care attendance influence children's cognitive and non-cognitive skill development?

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  • Kuehnle, Daniel
  • Oberfichtner, Michael

Abstract

While recent studies mostly find that attending child care earlier improves the skills of children from low socio-economic and non-native backgrounds in the short-run, it remains unclear whether such positive effects persist. We identify the short- and medium-run effects of early child care attendance in Germany using a fuzzy discontinuity in child care starting age between December and January. This discontinuity arises as children typically start formal child care in the summer of the calendar year in which they turn three. Combining rich German survey and administrative data, we follow one cohort from age five to 15 and examine standardised cognitive test scores, non-cognitive skill measures, and school track choice. We find no evidence that starting child care earlier affects children's outcomes in the short- or medium-run. Our precise estimates rule out large effects for children whose parents have a strong preference for sending them to early child care.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuehnle, Daniel & Oberfichtner, Michael, 2017. "Does early child care attendance influence children's cognitive and non-cognitive skill development?," VfS Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168241, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc17:168241
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    2. Breitkopf, Laura & Chowdhury, Shyamal K. & Priyam, Shambhavi & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah & Sutter, Matthias, 2020. "Do economic preferences of children predict behavior?," DICE Discussion Papers 342, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    3. van Huizen, Thomas & Plantenga, Janneke, 2018. "Do children benefit from universal early childhood education and care? A meta-analysis of evidence from natural experiments," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 206-222.
    4. Briole, Simon & Le Forner, Hélène & Lepinteur, Anthony, 2020. "Children’s socio-emotional skills: Is there a quantity–quality trade-off?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    5. Maximilian Bach & Josefine Koebe & Frauke H. Peter, 2019. "Long Run Effects of Universal Childcare on Personality Traits," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1815, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Anna Busse & Christina Gathmann, 2018. "Free Daycare and Its Effects on Children and Their Families," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 958, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Jens Dietrichson & Ida Lykke Kristiansen & Bjørn A. Viinholt, 2020. "Universal Preschool Programs And Long‐Term Child Outcomes: A Systematic Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(5), pages 1007-1043, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    child care; child development; skill formation; cognitive skills; non-cognitive skills; fuzzy regression discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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