The Impact of Center-Based Early Care and Education on Child Development and Family Behavior

Sandra Black, University of Texas at Austin
Elise Chor, University of Chicago
Ariel Kalil, University of Chicago

Our paper considers the impact of center-based early care and education on children’s outcomes and family processes. In order to align itself with a national curriculum, the Australian state of Queensland eliminated its public provision of preschool for four-year-olds in 2007, funding, instead, a kindergarten year of schooling for five-year-olds. As a result, the use of center-based care among four-year-olds dropped precipitously between 2006 and 2007. We capitalize on this natural experiment to estimate the causal impact of preschool-aged childcare usage on children’s socioemotional and cognitive outcomes, using the policy change as an instrument for child care use. We find no evidence of cognitive impacts but large, positive effects on socioemotional functioning. Additional analyses will explore the impact of the policy change on potential mechanisms, including maternal labor supply, family income, and maternal stress.

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Presented in Session 88: Early Childhood Education and Child Outcomes