Does child care availability play a role in maternal employment and children’s development? Evidence from Italy
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This paper investigates the effects of public child care availability in Italy in mothers’ working status and children’s scholastic achievements. We use a newly available dataset containing individual standardized test scores of pupils attending the second grade of primary school in 2009–2010 in conjunction with data on public child care availability. Our estimates indicate a positive and significant effects of child care availability on both mothers’ working status and children’s Language test scores. We find that a percentage change in public child care coverage increases mothers’ probability to work by 1.3 percentage points and children’s Language test scores by 0.85 percent of one standard deviation; we do not find any effect on Math test scores. Moreover, the impact of a percentage change in public child care on mothers’ employment and children’s Language test scores is greater in provinces where child care availability is more limited.
KeywordsChild care Female employment Child cognitive outcomes Test scores
JEL ClassificationJ13 I2 H75
The authors acknowledge financial support from Collegio Carlo Alberto (project “Parental and Public Investments and Child Outcomes”) and from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. 320116 for the research project FamiliesAndSocieties. We would like to thank Christopher Flinn, Cristian Bartolucci, Ignacio Monzon, Francesco Figari, Mario Pagliero, Vincenzo Galasso, Daniela Vuri, Elena Meschi, Claudio Lucifora, Marco Francesconi, Chiara Monfardini and Silvia Pasqua and seminar participants at DONDENA (Bocconi University), CHILD and 4th IDW (Collegio Carlo Alberto), NYU, CHILD-RECENT (University of Modena) and the Catholic University Milan for useful suggestions and comments. We also thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions. We are also grateful to Piero Cipollone (Bank of Italy) and Patrizia Falzetti (INVALSI) for providing the data.
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