The Four-day School Week and Parental Labor Supply

62 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2018 Last revised: 26 Jan 2019

Date Written: January 2019


In this study I explore effects of adoption of the four-day school week policy, a permanent reduction in annual days of schooling, on parental labor supply and related outcomes. Using a difference-in-differences empirical model, I estimate causal effects of four-day school week adoption on parental employment, hours worked, weeks worked, earnings, and location choice across four states—CO, ID, OK, OR—with large increases in the use of the policy in the last decade. Estimates indicate that, among mothers with children all between ages 5 and 13, increasing four-day week enrollment from zero to 25% of an area’s students causes an 11% decrease in employment (7.6 percentage points) and decreases of a similar magnitude in hours and weeks worked, and the probability of reporting any wage or salary income, relative to baseline levels. In contrast to these estimates, among single mothers I find no negative employment effects and also find that the policy led to an 18% increase in the incidence of working year-round relative to working fewer weeks per year. The labor supply of married fathers was not affected by adoption of the four-day school week in a statistically significant manner. Finally, I estimate small but precise increases in moving in response to the policy in subsequent years and show that there is significant heterogeneity in labor supply responses among married mothers according to educational level, with most of the negative effects accruing to mothers with a four-year college degree or greater.

Keywords: Parental labor supply, Maternal labor supply, child care, education policy

JEL Classification: H, I, J

Suggested Citation

Ward, Jason, The Four-day School Week and Parental Labor Supply (January 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Jason Ward (Contact Author)

RAND Corporation ( email )

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P.O. Box 2138
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