Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 231-253

The availability of child care centers, perceived search costs and parental life satisfaction

  • Chikako YamauchiAffiliated withEconomics Program, RSSS, The Australian National University Email author 

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The supply of formal childcare has expanded in many developed countries. However, there is ambiguity in the theory whether the entry of care providers increases consumers’ surplus in a market with differentiated services, such as childcare. This study empirically investigates how perceived search costs and parental life satisfaction change when actual childcare availability is altered. It exploits the new panel data from Australia on the number of center-based childcare places per 100 children within a household’s residential area. The results show that an increase in the availability of center-based childcare is associated with a decrease in perceived difficulty in finding ‘good quality’ childcare, as well as an increase in mothers’ satisfaction with the amount of free time available. These findings imply that the local availability of center-based childcare has enhanced the subjective well-being of parents.


Child care Entry Search Consumers’ surplus Life satisfaction

JEL Classification

J13 J22