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The impact of child care subsidies on mother's education outcomes

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Schochet, O. N., & Johnson, A. D.
Publication Date: 
1 May 2019


The federal child care subsidy program reduces child care costs for eligible low-income families to facilitate parental employment and educational attainment. Using national data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), this study is the first to ask whether subsidies induce an increase in maternal education level over time, and if so, whether this increase is steeper for mothers who use subsidies to increase their education when their children are younger. After matching subsidy recipients with subsidy-eligible non-recipients on a range of background variables, we assess whether mothers increase their education levels in response to entry into the subsidy program at two different points in a child’s early years: first when children are 2 years old and then when children are in preschool. Results suggest that subsidy receipt promotes mothers’ educational attainment, with the largest impacts for mothers who receive subsidies when their children are younger (2 years old vs preschool-age) and for subgroups of mothers who have low baseline levels of education (high school or below) and who are not initially enrolled in school.