The Impact of Child Care Subsidies on Mothers’ Education Outcomes
The federal child care subsidy program reduces child care costs for eligible low-income families to facilitate parental employment and educational attainment. Using national data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), this study is the first to ask whether subsidies induce an increase in maternal education level over time, and if so, whether this increase is steeper for mothers who use subsidies to increase their education when their children are younger. After matching subsidy recipients with subsidy-eligible non-recipients on a range of background variables, we assess whether mothers increase their education levels in response to entry into the subsidy program at two different points in a child’s early years: first when children are 2 years old and then when children are in preschool. Results suggest that subsidy receipt promotes mothers’ educational attainment, with the largest impacts for mothers who receive subsidies when their children are younger (2 years old vs preschool-age) and for subgroups of mothers who have low baseline levels of education (high school or below) and who are not initially enrolled in school.
KeywordsChild care subsidies Maternal education Low-income
We are grateful for feedback received on earlier versions of this manuscript from Drs. Christ Herbst, Rebecca Ryan, and William Gormley, and conference participants at the Association for Public Policy and Management (APPAM) 2017 Fall Research Conference the Society for Research in Educational Effectiveness (SREE) Spring 2018 Conference, and the 2018 National Research Conference on Early Childhood (NRCEC). None of the above bear any responsibility for the contents.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.
The study does not analyze primary data collected by the authors. All procedures performed by the authors and NCES are in accordance with ethical standards.
Because the study relies on nationally representative secondary data informed consent is not applicable. The authors followed all protocols and procedures in procuring and accessing the data. See https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/licenses.asp.
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