Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 621–638 | Cite as

School enrolment and mothers’ labor supply: evidence from a regression discontinuity approach

  • Henning Finseraas
  • Inés Hardoy
  • Pål SchøneEmail author


We analyze the impact on maternal employment of a universal school reform in Norway which lowered the school starting age from seven to six. We use a regression discontinuity approach exploiting exogenous variation in the compulsory school enrollment rule caused by the reform. Our results reveal positive short-term effects on labor supply (approximately five percentage points) and on earnings (about 12600/1350 NOK/Euro). Subgroup analyses show that the positive effects are much stronger for mothers with low wage potential, a group of mothers that were less likely to use formal childcare prior to the reform. The positive effects for this subgroup of mothers suggest that expanding child-care can be an effective tool for increasing labor supply of mothers who previously had relatively low labor market earnings potential.


Labor supply Mothers School entry Regression discontinuity 

JEL Classification

I21 J22 



This research was supported by two Norwegian research council projects, “Trygd i kontekst” and Center for Research on Gender Equality (CORE). The authors gratefully acknowledge this support. We would like to thank Andreas Kotsadam, seminar particpants at the Institute for Social Research, as well conference participants at the ESPE conference in Izmir Turkey in June 2015, and at the The EEA conference in Manheim in August 2015. Previous versions of this paper (using other identification strategies) have circulated under the titles “School Enrollment and Mothers’ Labor Supply: Evidence from a Universal School Reform” and “Free Childcare and Mothers’ Labor Supply: Evidence Using a School Starting Age Reform”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social ResearchOsloNorway

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