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Experimental evidence of the effect of Head Start on mothers' labor supply and human capital investments


Using data from the Head Start Impact Study (2002–2008), a randomized control trial, I estimate the effect of child Head Start attendance and, more broadly, non-parental child care on maternal labor supply, maternal schooling, household income, and welfare participation. The availability of Head Start significantly increased the proportion of mothers using non-parental care but had no effect on the overall probability of maternal employment. However, Head Start availability facilitated full-time employment and decisions over course enrollment for some mothers. For mothers who first applied to Head Start when her child was three years old, the availability of Head Start increased full-time employment by 4.7 percentage points (14.7 percent), decreased part-time employment (21 percent), and increased course enrollment (35 percent). Additionally, for these mothers there is suggestive evidence of persistence in full-time employment after their child exited Head Start. For mothers who first applied to Head Start when their child was four, the availability had little effect on maternal employment and schooling. For both groups of mothers, Head Start availability did not significantly impact household income or welfare participation in SSI, TANF, food stamps, or WIC. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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