Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/193279
Authors: 
Gordon, James
Herbst, Chris M.
Tekin, Erdal
Year of Publication: 
2018
Series/Report no.: 
IZA Discussion Papers 11985
Abstract: 
Despite the well-documented benefits of high-quality child care, many preschool-age children in the U.S. attend low-quality programs. Accordingly, improving the quality of child care is increasingly an explicit goal of government policy. However, accomplishing this goal requires a thorough understanding of the factors that influence parents' child care decisions. This paper provides the first credible evidence on the demand for child care characteristics in the market for home-based care. Using a randomized audit design, we study three dimensions of caregiving: affordability (i.e., the hourly price of child care), quality (i.e., caregiver education and experience), and convenience (i.e., caregiver car ownership and availability). We find that while parents are extremely sensitive to the cost of child care, they also have strong preferences for quality, particularly caregivers' educational attainment. Furthermore, we obtain mixed results on the convenience dimensions of child care, with parents valuing those owning a car but not those with more availability. Finally, we find significant heterogeneity in child care preferences according to families' age of youngest child, race and ethnicity, and willingness-to-pay. Our findings suggest that the child care market's quality problems may be driven by parents' inability to afford high-quality care or their lack of informational resources on how to identify such programs, rather than an unwillingness to pay for them.
Subjects: 
child care
early childhood
education
parent preferences
field experiments
JEL: 
I21
I28
J01
J23
J24
Document Type: 
Working Paper
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