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Preschool for all?: Enrollment and maternal labour supply implications of a bilingual preschool policy

Previous research supports the effectiveness of preschool in various contexts, yet there is limited evidence whether universal-type preschool policies induce changes in enrollment. While certain states have enacted universal preschool policies, some have also considered bilingual preschool mandates, either as a supplementary or stand-alone policy, requiring schools to open up bilingual classrooms for children from non-English speaking families. The question of whether bilingual preschool policies can induce enrollment and close achievement gaps between English learners and English speakers is particularly important today for urban cities and states with large immigrant populations. In this study, I exploit exogenous variation from the first bilingual prekindergarten mandate in Illinois to estimate the causal effects on preschool enrollment and maternal labour supply of recently immigrated and Hispanic families. Utilizing a difference-in-differences strategy, estimates suggest significant effects on preschool enrollment between 18% and 20% and no effects of increasing maternal labour supply in Illinois. Estimates are robust to various specifications, control groups, and timeframes. I use the analysis to further discuss whether universal preschool policies are designed sufficiently for access and inclusion of various student types, and contribute to our understanding on the effectiveness of using childcare subsidies to increase the welfare of low-income families. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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