The Impact of Non-Parental Child Care on Child Development: Evidence from the Summer Participation 'Dip'

69 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2012

See all articles by Chris M. Herbst

Chris M. Herbst

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs

Date Written: September 24, 2012

Abstract

Although a large literature examines the effect of non-parental child care on preschool-aged children’s cognitive development, few studies deal convincingly with the potential endogeneity of child care choices. Using a panel of infants and toddlers from the Birth cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-B), this paper attempts to provide causal estimates by leveraging heretofore unrecognized seasonal variation in child care participation. Child assessments in the ECLS-B were conducted on a rolling basis throughout the year, and I use the participation “dip” among those assessed during the summer as the basis for an instrumental variable. The summer participation “dip” is likely to be exogenous because ECLS-B administrators strictly controlled the mechanism by which children were assigned to assessment dates. The OLS results show that children utilizing non-parental arrangements score higher on tests of mental ability, a finding that holds after accounting for individual fixed effects. However, the instrumental variables estimates point to sizeable negative effects of non-parental care. The adverse effects are driven by participation in formal settings, and, contrary to previous research, I find that disadvantaged children do not benefit from exposure to non-parental child care settings.

Keywords: child care, child development

JEL Classification: I2, J13

Suggested Citation

Herbst, Chris M., The Impact of Non-Parental Child Care on Child Development: Evidence from the Summer Participation 'Dip' (September 24, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2151401 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2151401

Chris M. Herbst (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Box 870603
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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