Childcare Policy and Cognitive Outcomes of Children: Results from a Large Scale Quasi-Experiment on Universal Childcare in Canada

CIRPEE Working Paper No. 08-23

39 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2008

See all articles by Pierre Lefebvre

Pierre Lefebvre

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Department of Economics

Phil Merrigan

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM)

Matthieu Verstraete

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM)

Date Written: September 12, 2008

Abstract

Effects of a low-fee universal childcare policy, initiated in Quebec, the second most populous province in Canada, on the cognitive development of preschool children are estimated with a sample of 4- and 5-year-olds (N=8,875; N=17,154). In 1997, licensed and regulated providers of childcare services began offering daycare spaces at the reduced fee of $5 per day per child for children aged 4. By 2000, the low-fee policy applied to all children aged 0 to 59 months (not in kindergarten). The study uses 6 cycles of biennial data drawn from Statistics Canada's National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (1994-2004) and quasi-experimental estimation methods to provide evidence that the policy had substantial negative effects on preschool children's Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test scores. The negative effects are found to be stronger for children with mothers who have lower levels of education.

Keywords: Preschool children, school readiness, childcare, kindergarten, treatment effects, natural experiment

JEL Classification: H42, J21, J22

Suggested Citation

Lefebvre, Pierre and Merrigan, Phil and Verstraete, Matthieu, Childcare Policy and Cognitive Outcomes of Children: Results from a Large Scale Quasi-Experiment on Universal Childcare in Canada (September 12, 2008). CIRPEE Working Paper No. 08-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1267335 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1267335

Pierre Lefebvre (Contact Author)

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 8888, Downtown Station
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3P8
Canada
514-987-3000 x8373 (Phone)
514-987-8494 (Fax)

Phil Merrigan

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) ( email )

P.O. Box 8888, Downtown Station
Succursale Centre Ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3P8
Canada

Matthieu Verstraete

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) ( email )

PB 8888 Station DownTown
Succursale Centre Ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C3P8
Canada

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