What Do Parents Value in a Child Care Provider? Evidence from Yelp Consumer Reviews

51 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2018

See all articles by Chris M. Herbst

Chris M. Herbst

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs

Kevin Desouza

Queensland University of Technology

Saud Alashri

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST)

Srinivasa Kandala

Arizona State University (ASU)

Mayank Khullar

Microsoft Corporation

Vikash Bajaj

Arizona State University (ASU)

Abstract

This paper exploits novel data and empirical methods to examine parental preferences for child care. Specifically, we analyze consumer reviews of child care businesses posted on the website Yelp.com. A key advantage of Yelp is that it contains a large volume of unstructured information about a broad set of child care programs located in demographically and economically diverse communities. Thus our analysis relies on a combination of theory- and data-driven methodologies to organize and classify the characteristics of child care that are assessed by parents. We also use natural language processing techniques to examine the affect and psychological tones expressed in the reviews. Our main results are threefold.First, we find that consumers overall are highly satisfied with their child care provider, although those in higher-income markets are substantially more satisfied than their counterparts in lower-income markets. Second, the program characteristics most commonly evaluated by consumers relate to safety, quality of the learning environment, and child-teacher interactions. However, lower- and higher-income consumers evaluate different characteristics in their reviews. The former is more likely to comment on a program's practical features, such as its pricing and accessibility, while the latter is more likely to focus on the learning environment.Finally, we find that consumers in lower-income markets are more likely to display negative psychological tones such as anxiety and anger in their reviews, particularly when discussing the nature of their interactions with program managers and their child's interactions with teachers.

Keywords: content analysis, Yelp, preferences, early childhood education, child care, machine learning

JEL Classification: J13

Suggested Citation

Herbst, Chris M. and Desouza, Kevin and Alashri, Saud and Kandala, Srinivasa and Khullar, Mayank and Bajaj, Vikash, What Do Parents Value in a Child Care Provider? Evidence from Yelp Consumer Reviews. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11741, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3238566

Chris M. Herbst (Contact Author)

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

Box 870603
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Kevin Desouza

Queensland University of Technology

2 George Street
Brisbane, 4000
Australia

Saud Alashri

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) ( email )

P.O Box 6086
Riyadh, 11442
Saudi Arabia

Srinivasa Kandala

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Mayank Khullar

Microsoft Corporation

One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
United States

Vikash Bajaj

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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