The Effects of Day Care on Health During Childhood: Evidence by Age

48 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020 Last revised: 16 Aug 2020

Date Written: July 2020


Lockdowns with lack of access to day care may have severe detrimental long-run health and behavioral effects on the children involved. This paper studies the effects of day care exposure on behavioral problems and mental health as well as on various aspects of physical health, at various ages during childhood. We draw on a unique set of comprehensive individual-level outpatient and inpatient health care register data merged with other register data. By exploiting variation in day care exposure by age generated by a major day care policy reform, we estimate cumulative and instantaneous effects on child health at different ages. We find sizeable beneficial cumulative impacts of day care on behavioral and mental health at primary school ages, and substitution of the incidence of infections from primary school ages to low ages. The evidence suggests that the main beneficiaries of day care are in low socio-economic households. Day care usage affects health care utilization and leads to a moderate reduction in health care costs.

Keywords: behavioral disorders, Child Care, day care fees, Education, health registers, illness, infections, Non-cognitive ability, pre-school

JEL Classification: C23, C25, C83, I12, J13, J14

Suggested Citation

Van den Berg, Gerard J. and Siflinger, Bettina M, The Effects of Day Care on Health During Childhood: Evidence by Age (July 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15036, Available at SSRN:

Gerard J. Van den Berg (Contact Author)

University of Bristol ( email )

University of Bristol,
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

Bettina M Siflinger

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE

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