Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 393–422 | Cite as

Can’t buy mommy’s love? Universal childcare and children’s long-term cognitive development

  • Christina Felfe
  • Natalia Nollenberger
  • Núria Rodríguez-Planas
Original Paper

Abstract

What happens to children’s long-run cognitive development when introducing universal high-quality childcare for 3-year-olds mainly crowds out family care? To answer this question, we take advantage of a sizeable expansion of publicly subsidized full-time high-quality childcare for 3-year-olds in Spain in the early 1990s. Identification relies on variation in the initial speed of the expansion of childcare slots across states. Using a difference-in-difference approach, we find strong evidence for sizeable improvements in children’s reading skills at age 15 (0.15 standard deviation) and weak evidence for a reduction in grade retentions during primary school (2.5 percentage points). The effects are driven by girls and disadvantaged children.

Keywords

Universal high-quality childcare Long-term consequences Cognitive skills 

JEL Classification

J13 I28 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the editor, Erdal Tekin, and three anonymous referees for helpful comments that greatly improved the paper. The authors are also grateful to Manuel Bagues, Paul Devereux, Susan Dinarsky, Maria Fitzpatrick, Libertad González, Lídia Farré, Michael Lechner, Oskar Nordström Skans, Björn Öckert, Xavi Ramos, Antonio Cabrales, Ismael Sanz Labrador, Uta Schönberg, Anna Sjögren, Anna Vignoles, Conny Wunsch, Natalia Zinovyeva, as well as participants from the V INSIDE-MOVE, NORFACE, and CReAM Workshop on Migration and Labor Economics, the III Workshop on Economics of Education “Improving Quality in Education,” the CESifo Area Conference on the Economics of Education, the RES Annual Meeting, the SOLE Annual Meeting, the ESPE Annual Meeting the EALE Annual Meeting as well as seminars at DIW, IFAU, University College Dublin, Ludwigs-Maximilians Universität, and University of St Gallen. The authors also would like to thank the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa (INEE) del Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte for facilitating access to the geo-codes for PISA 2000 and Brindusa Anghel from FEDEA for her support with the Spanish Labor Force Survey.

References

  1. Adserà A (2004) Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labor market institutions. J Popul Econ 17(1):17–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amuedo-Dorantes C, de la Rica S (2009) The timing of work and work-family conflicts in Spain: who has a split work schedule and why? IZA discussion paper 4542Google Scholar
  3. Baker M, Milligan K (2011) Maternity leave and children’s cognitive and behavioral development. NBER working paper 17105.Google Scholar
  4. Baker M, Gruber J, Milligan K (2008) Universal child care, maternal labor supply, and family well-being. J Polit Econ 116(4):709–745CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bauchmüller R, Gørtz M, Würtz-Rasmussen A (2014) Long-run benefits from universal high-quality preschooling. Early Child Res Q 29(4):457–470.Google Scholar
  6. Berlinski S, Galiani S (2007) The effect of a large expansion in pre-primary school facilities on preschool attendance and maternal employment. Labour Econ 14(3):665–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berlinski S, Galiani S, Manacorda M (2008) Giving children a better start: preschool attendance and school-age profiles. J Public Econ 92(5):1416–1440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berlinski S, Galiani S, Gertler P (2009) The effect of pre-primary education on primary school performance. J Public Econ 93(1–2):219–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bettinger E, Haegeland T, Rege M (2013) Home with mom: the effects of stay-at-home parents on children’s long-run educational outcomes. CESifo working papers 4274Google Scholar
  10. Bettio F, Villa P (1998) A Mediterranean perspective on the breakdown of the relationship between participation and fertility. Cambridge J Econ 22(2):137–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Black S, Devereux P, Loken K, Salvanes K (2012) Care or cash? The effect of child care subsidies on student performance. NBER working paper 18086Google Scholar
  12. Blau D, Currie J (2006) Preschool, day care, and after school care: who's minding the kids? In: Hanushek E, Welsh F (eds) Handbook of economics of education vol 2. Amsterdam, North Holland Press, pp. 1163–278Google Scholar
  13. Carneiro P, Løken K, Salvanes K (2011) A flying start? Maternity leave benefits and long run outcomes of children. IZA discussion paper 5793Google Scholar
  14. Cascio E (2009) Do investments in universal early education pay off? Long-term effects of introducing into public schools. NBER working paper 14951Google Scholar
  15. Datta Gupta N, Simonsen M (2010) Non-cognitive child outcomes and universal high quality child care. J Public Econ 94(1–2):30–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Drange N, Havnes T, Sandsør A (2012) Kindergarten for all: long run effects of a universal intervention. Stat Norway DP 695Google Scholar
  17. Duflo E (2001) Schooling and labor market consequences of school construction in Indonesia: evidence from an unusual policy experiment. Am Econ Rev 91(4):795–813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dustmann C, Schöenberg U (2012) Expansions in maternity leave coverage on children long-term outcomes. Am Econ J Appl Econ 4(3):190–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Economist. Does subsidized preschool pay-off? 13 February 2013Google Scholar
  20. Economist, Fighting over the kinder. 17 August 2013Google Scholar
  21. El País, La LOGSE, 15 años después (by Elena Martín Ortega). 3 October 2005Google Scholar
  22. Felfe C, Lalive R (2012) Early child care and child development: for whom it works and why. IZA Discussion Papers 7100.Google Scholar
  23. Felgueroso F, Gutiérrez M, Jimenez S (2014) Why school dropout remained so high in the last two decades? The role of the educational law (LOGSE). IZA J Labor Policy 3:9, 9 May 2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fernández-Kranz D, Rodríguez-Planas N (2011) The part-time penalty in a segmented labor market. Labour Econ 18(5):591–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fitzpatrick M (2008) Starting school at four: the effect of universal pre-kindergarten on children’s academic achievement. BE J Econ Anal Poli 8(1):1–38Google Scholar
  26. Gathmann C, Saß B (2012) Taxing childcare: effects on family labor supply and children. IZA discussion paper 6640Google Scholar
  27. Gormley W Jr, Gayer T (2005) Promoting school readiness in Oklahoma. An evaluation of Tulsa’s pre-k program. J Hum Resour 3:533–558Google Scholar
  28. Gutierrez-Domenech M (2005) Employment transitions after motherhood in Spain. Labour 19:123–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Havnes T, Mogstad M (2011) No child left behind: subsidized child care and children’s long-run outcomes. Am Econ J Econ Policy 3:97–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lenneberg, E (1964) The capacity of language acquisition. In: J Fodor and J Katz (eds) The structure of language. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, pp 579–603Google Scholar
  31. Liu Q, Oskar S (2010) The duration of paid parental leave and children’s scholastic performance. BE J Econ Anal Poli 10(1):1935–1682Google Scholar
  32. Loeb S, Bridges M, Bassok D, Fuller B, Rumberger R (2007) How much is too much? The influence of preschool centers on children’s social and cognitive development. Econ Educ Rev 26:52–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. LOGSE, Ley Orgánica 1, 1990 de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo, 03.10.2013, BOE No. 238, 28927–28942Google Scholar
  34. Magnuson K, Ruhm C, Waldfogel J (2007) Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance? Econ Educ Rev 26(1):33–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Montessori M (1963) The secret of childhood. Ballentine Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. New York Times. German Lawmakers Spar Over Child Care Subsidy, by Melissa Eddy. 6 Jun 2012Google Scholar
  37. Nollenberger N, Rodríguez-Planas, N (2011) Child care, maternal employment and persistence: a natural experiment from Spain. IZA discussion paper 5888Google Scholar
  38. OECD (2006). PISA 2006 science competencies for tomorrow’s worldGoogle Scholar
  39. Rasmussen A (2010) Increasing the length of parents’ birth-related leave: the effect on children’s long-term educational outcomes. Labour Econ 17(1):91–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina Felfe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Natalia Nollenberger
    • 3
  • Núria Rodríguez-Planas
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Universität St. GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland
  2. 2.CESifoMunichGermany
  3. 3.School of Business and ManagementQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Queens CollegeCUNYQueensUSA
  5. 5.IZABonnGermany

Personalised recommendations