Skip to main content

Preschoolers with working mothers

An analysis of the determinants of child care arrangements


This research examines the determinants of child care mode choice for the preschool-age children of working mothers. Attention is focused on two main questions. First, do increases in economic resources raise the likelihood that center care arrangements will be employed? And second, is there a quality-quantity tradeoff in the context of child care? A multinomial logit analysis of data on preschoolers from the 1982 National Survey of Family Growth (conducted in the United States) yields positive answers to both of these questions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • AbtAssociates (1977) National day care study. Draft phase II report. Cambridge

  • Becker GS, Lewis HG (1973) Interaction between quantity and quality of children. In: Schultz TW (ed) Economics of the family. University of Chicago Press, Chicago London, pp 81–90

    Google Scholar 

  • Belsky J, Steinberg LD, Walker A (1982) The ecology of day care. In: Lamb ME (ed) Non-traditional families: parenting and child development. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale New Jersey, pp 71–116

    Google Scholar 

  • Berk LE (1985) Relationship of caregiver education to child-oriented attitudes, job satisfaction, and behaviors toward children. Child Care Q 14(2):103–129

    Google Scholar 

  • Blake J (1981) Family size and quality of children. Demography 18(4):421–442

    Google Scholar 

  • Chamnivickorn S (1988) Fertility, labor supply and investments in child quality among white and Asian American women. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Chiswick BR (1986) Labor supply and investment in child quality: a study of Jewish and non-Jewish women. Rev Econ Stat 68(4):700–703

    Google Scholar 

  • Duncan GJ, Hill CR (1975) Modal choice in child care arrangements. In: Duncan GJ, Morgan JN (eds) Five thousand American families — Patterns of economic progress, vol 3. Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, pp 235–258

    Google Scholar 

  • Duncan GJ, Hill CR (1977) The child care mode choice of working mothers. In: Duncan G, Morgan JN (eds) Five thousand American families — Patterns of economic progress, vol 5. Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, pp 379–388

    Google Scholar 

  • Fleisher BM (1977) Mother's home time and the production of child quality. Demography 14(2):197–212

    Google Scholar 

  • Friedman D (1985) Corporate financial assistance for child care, Conference Board Res Bull #117

  • Hill CR, Stafford FP (1974) Allocation of time to preschool children and educational opportunity. J Human Resources 9(3):323–341

    Google Scholar 

  • Hofferth SL (1987) Statement of child care in the U.S. before the select committee on children, youths, and families, July 1

  • Hofferth SL, Moore KA (1979) Women's employment and marriage. In: Smith RE (ed) The subtle revolution: women at work. The Urban Institute, Washington, DC, pp 99–124

    Google Scholar 

  • Kurz M, Robins P, Spiegelman R (1975) A study of the demand for child care by working mothers. Stanford Research Institute. Center for the Study of Welfare Policy. Research Memorandum 27

  • Lehrer EL, Kawasaki S (1985) Child care arrangements and fertility: an analysis of two-earner households. Demography 22(4):499–513

    Google Scholar 

  • Leibowitz A (1977) Parental inputs and children's achievement. J Human Resources 12(2):242–251

    Google Scholar 

  • Leibowitz A, Waite LJ, Witsberger C (1988) Child care for preschoolers: differences by child's age. Demography 25(2):205–220

    Google Scholar 

  • Nerlove M, Razin A (1981) Child spacing and numbers: an empirical analysis. In: Deaton A (ed) Essays in the theory and measurement of consumer behaviour in honour of Sir Richard Stone. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 297–324

    Google Scholar 

  • O'Connell M, Bloom DE (1987) Juggling jobs and babies: America's child care challenge. Population Reference Bureau, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  • Presser HB (1988) Shift work and child care among young dual-earner American parents. J Marriage Family 50:133–148

    Google Scholar 

  • Robins PK, Spiegelman RG (1978) Substitution among child care modes and the effects of a child care subsidy program. In: Robins PK, Weiner S (eds) Child care and public policy. Lexington Books, Lexington, pp 87–102

    Google Scholar 

  • Rodes TW, Moore JC (1976) National childcare consumer study 1975. Education and Welfare, Office of Child Development, US Department of Health, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Child Development Office (1975) Child care programs in 9 countries. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (1978) The appropriateness of federal interagency day care. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  • Yaeger KE (1978) Modal choice in the demand for child care by working women: a multinomial logit analysis with quality adjustment. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Princeton University

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

I am indebted to Barry Chiswick and two anonymous referees for many helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lehrer, E.L. Preschoolers with working mothers. J Popul Econ 1, 251–268 (1989).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Child Care
  • National Survey
  • Center Care
  • Economic Resource
  • Main Question