NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Impact of Child Care Subsidies on Child Well-Being: Evidence from Geographic Variation in the Distance to Social Service Agencies

Chris M. Herbst, Erdal Tekin

NBER Working Paper No. 16250
Issued in August 2010
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   HE

In recent years, child care subsidies have become an integral part of federal and state efforts to move economically disadvantaged parents from welfare to work. Although previous empirical studies consistently show that these employment-related subsidies raise work levels among this group, little is known about the impact of subsidy receipt on child well-being. In this paper, we identify the causal effect of child care subsidies on child development by exploiting geographic variation in the distance that families must travel from home in order to reach the nearest social service agency that administers the subsidy application process. Using data from the Kindergarten cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, our instrumental variables estimates suggest that children receiving subsidized care in the year before kindergarten score lower on tests of cognitive ability and reveal more behavior problems throughout kindergarten. However, these negative effects largely disappear by the time children reach the end of third grade. Our results point to an unintended consequence of a child care subsidy regime that conditions eligibility on parental employment and deemphasizes child care quality.

download in pdf format
   (450 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (450 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16250

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Herbst and Tekin w17774 Child Care Subsidies, Maternal Well-Being, and Child-Parent Interactions: Evidence from Three Nationally Representative Datasets
Black, Devereux, L√łken, and Salvanes w18086 Care or Cash? The Effect of Child Care Subsidies on Student Performance
Herbst and Tekin w17471 The Geographic Accessibility of Child Care Subsidies and Evidence on the Impact of Subsidy Receipt on Childhood Obesity
Blau and Tekin w9665 The Determinants and Consequences of Child Care Subsidies for Single Mothers
Herbst and Tekin w14474 Child Care Subsidies and Child Development
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us