Jane Waldfogel Columbia University & CASE, London School of Economics Long-Term Effects of Early Childhood Care and Education UCLS & IFAU Conference, Stockholm, October 25, 2012
Background & motivation • There are several ways that policies influencing the care and education children receive in early childhood might affect their short- and long-term outcomes. • Policies might have direct effects on children’s human capital, e.g. by altering children’s exposure to educational experiences. • Policies might have indirect effects, e.g. by altering parental employment or family income. • As James Heckman and others have emphasized, returns might be higher to investments made early in life, because early childhood might be a sensitive period and because early investments might raise the productivity of future investments.
Overview • A growing number of studies have examined the long-term effects of large-scale/universal early childhood policies. • Reviewing the evidence (in “Long-Term Effects of Early Childhood Care and Education”, published in Nordic Economic Policy Review, 2012), Christopher Ruhm and I find: • Only limited evidence that expansions of parental leave have led to long-term improvements in educational or labor market outcomes for children. • Much more consistent evidence that expansions of early childhood education yield benefits at school entry, in adolescence, and in adulthood, with particularly favorable results for disadvantaged children.
I. Challenges in measuring policy impacts • Obtaining data that are appropriate, sufficiently detailed, and with large enough Ns • An important advance here is the use of registry and administrative data • Using methods appropriate for causal inference in the face of issues such as omitted variable bias and endogenous policy enactment: • difference in difference (DD) • instrumental variables (IV) • regression discontinuity (RD)
II. Parental leave reforms: What should we expect? • The answer will depend on: • Whether and how the reforms affect maternal time at home, as well as mediating factors like family income • Who is covered and influenced by the reform • When in childhood the reforms occur • What the counter-factual is • So, the effects of maternity leave reforms might not be consistent across countries or situations.
II. Parental leave reforms: Evidence on medium- to long-term outcomes • DK: Rasmussen (2010) examines a reform that extended leave from 14 to 20 weeks in 1984; leave use increased but no effect on high school enrollment or GPA. • GE: Dustmann & Schonberg (2008) analyse the effects of 3 reforms, extending paid leave from 2 to 6 months (1979) and from 6 to 10 months (1986), and unpaid leave from 18 to 36 months (1992); no effect on school or labor market outcomes • SW: Liu & Skans (2010) study a reform extending leave from 12 to 15 months in 1988; no effect on grades or test scores except for children of well-educated mothers. • NO: Carneiro, Loken, & Salvanes (2010) find positive effects ...
II. Parental leave reforms:Medium- to long-term outcomes (continued) • NO: Carneiro, Loken, & Salvanes (2010) study a 1977 reform that increased paid leave from 0 to 4 months and unpaid leave from 3 to 12 months. The reform decreased high school dropout rates (largest effects for children of the least educated mothers and those who would have taken the least leave pre-reform), and raised IQ and height (for men). Why? • Analysis focuses on eligible women, rather than all new mothers • Policy extended leave in the first year of life and without reducing family income (unlike some other reforms) • Counter-factual was informal child care rather than high-quality child care as in many European countries in later years
II. Parental leave reforms:Evidence on short-term outcomes • CN: Baker & Milligan (2008, 2010, 2011) examine an extension of paid maternity leave from 6 to 12 months in 2000. They find increased time at home (3 mos) and breast-feeding (1 mo) but no effect on child health or development at 24 mos or age 4-5. Haeck (2011) also the reform and finds effects vary depending on the method used. • US: Washbrook, Ruhm, Waldfogel, & Han (2011) find state maternity leave extensions increase mothers’ employment, leave-taking, and use of child care in year post-birth, but find no effect on child health or development at age 4.
III. Early childhood education policies: What we look at and what we expect • We look at large-scale/universal policies (not model programs like Perry or compensatory ones like Head Start). • What we expect will depend on: • Whether and how policies affect care arrangements, as well as mediating factors like parental employment and income • Who is covered and influenced by the policy • When in childhood the policy occurs • What the counter-factual is • So, the effects of early childhood care and education policies may not be consistent across countries or situations.
III. Early childhood education:Evidence on long-term outcomes • DK: Bingley & Westergaard-Nielsen (2011) analyze preschool expansions of late 1970s/early 1980s. Preschool density is positively associated with completed schooling (especially for disadvantaged children) and earnings at age 22-30. • FR: Dumas & Lefranc (2011) study preschool expansions of 1960s/1970s and find positive impacts on grade repetition, test scores, high school graduation, and adult wages, especially for non-advantaged children. • NO: Havnes & Mogstad (2011) find that post-1975 preschool expansions raised years of schooling, college attendance, labor force participation, reduced dropout and welfare receipt, especially for children of low-educated mothers.
III. Early childhood education: Evidence on medium-term outcomes • Many studies here, generally finding: • Preschool or kindergarten improves outcomes for school-age children or adolescents in several countries (Germany, India, Norway, Sweden, Uruguay, US) although not CN • Effects are largest for (or restricted to) children of immigrants (Germany, Norway, Sweden, US) or children of low-educated or low-SES mothers (Norway, Uruguay, US)
III. Early childhood education: Medium-term outcomes (continued) • CN: DeCicca & Smith (2011) find that entering kindergarten earlier increases grade repetition and decreases 10th grade math and reading scores. • GE: Spiess, Büchel, & (2003) find that attending kindergarten has no effect for German citizens but is associated with higher academic track placement for immigrants. • IN: Hazarikaand & Viren (2010) find that attending preschool leads to higher school enrollment and faster grade progression.
III. Early childhood education: Medium-term outcomes (continued) • NO: Black, Devereux, Loken, & Salvanes (2010) find that preschool attendance at age 3-5 has a positive effect on children’s future national exam grades, with the largest impacts for children from low-income families. Drange & Kjetil (2010) find that free preschool for 5-year olds in two districts in Oslo raises school achievement of children of immigrants (girls only). Drange, Havnes, & Sandsør (2011) find no effect of preschool attendance on average academic performance but compulsory preschool raises test scores of children with immigrant backgrounds.
III. Early childhood education: Medium-term outcomes (continued) • SW: Fredriksson, Hall, Johansson, & Johansson (2010) find that preschool attendance raised language scores for immigrants, but had no effects on another test or academic secondary school completion • UR: Berlinski, Galiani, & Manacorda (2008) find that preschool expansions raised school enrollment and grade completion. • US: Dhuey (2011) finds that kindergarten expansions reduced grade retention among Hispanic children, non-English speakers, children of immigrants, and children from low SES households (but not Black children).
III. Early childhood education:Evidence on short-term outcomes • ARG: Berlinksi, Galiani, & Gertler (2009) analyze a 1993-99 preschool expansion and find that it increased language and math test scores, and improved attention, effort, class participation, and discipline in 3rd grade, especially for children in areas with high poverty rates. • CN: Baker, Gruber & Milligan (2008) find adverse effects of Quebec’s universal $5-a-day child care subsidy program on outcomes for children under age 5; see also Lefebvre, Merrigan, & Roy-Desrosiers (2011).
III. Early childhood education: Short-term outcomes (continued) • DK: Esping-Andersen et al. (2011) find that attending preschool is associated with higher test scores at age 11, particularly for low-income children; Datta Gupta & Simonsen (2010a, b) find no effects of preschool on behavior. • FR: Caille (2001) finds that children starting preschool at 2 are less likely to be retained than those beginning at 3, especially for children of immigrants; however, Goux & Maurin (2008) find no effects of earlier entry into preschool. • GE: Felfe & Lalive (2011) find that center-based care provided to 0-3 year olds positively affects social development, language skills and school grades at ages 2-10, especially for children from low-SES families.
III. Early childhood education: Short-term outcomes (continued) • US: Several studies of pre-K programs find positive effects, at least in short-term, and particularly for disadvantaged children (Barnett et al., 2010; Figlio & Roth, 2009; Fitzpatrick, 2008a; Gormley et al., 2005, 2008; Magnuson, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2007a, b; Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2010; Wong et al., 2008)
III. Early childhood education: Short-term outcomes (continued) • US: Magnuson, Ruhm, & Waldfogel (2007a, b) find that children who attended preK enter school with better reading and math skills (particularly for disadvantaged) some of which persist to 5th grade but also more behavior problems which persist to 1st grade (although not if they attended preK at their current school). Figlio & Roth (2009) find that attending preKreduces behavior problems, suspensions, and retention in first few years of school, especially for disadvantaged. Fitzgerald (2008a) finds that Georgia’s universal preK program raises 4th grade reading and math scoresand reduces grade retention for disadvantaged children.
Early childhood education: Short-term outcomes (continued) • US: There have now been several RD studies of universal prekindergarten (preK) programs. Gormley and co-authors (2005, 2008) find that Oklahoma’s universal preK program had positive effects on literacy, math, and socioemotional development, especially for the disadvantaged. Wong et al. (2008) find generally positive effects on language, literacy, and math in their 5-state study. Weiland & Yoshikawa (2012) find positive effects of Boston’s preK program. Barnett et al. (2010) review other state studies and report generally positive effects of preK on children’s school readiness.
IV. Conclusions: Only limited evidence of long-term benefits of parental leave expansions • Benefits may be hard to measure or confined to specific sub-groups.Carneiro et al. (2010) found no effects when the analysis included parents likely to be ineligible, but did find beneficial effects when estimates focused on women likely to be influenced by the reforms • Leaves may have been sufficiently long, before reforms, to yield most possible benefits to children. Strongest evidence of long-term gains is in Carneiro et al.’s (2010) study of Norwegian expansion of paid leave from 0 to 4 months. • Both points are relevant when considering policy changes in the US, where rights to paid leave are almost completely absent, and leave that is available is short.
IV. Conclusions: Results are far more uniform for research examining early childhood education • Preschool expansions are found to yield short-, medium-, and long-term benefits in virtually all studies. • Gains tend to be largest for (or are restricted to) disadvantaged or immigrants. • Results in some U.S. studies differ, perhaps because high quality subsidized child care had already been available to low-income children through Head Start. Mixed or negative results in Canada probably occurred because child care subsidies increased the use of low-quality informal care. • So, quality matters – obtaining favorable consequences requires an institutional structure where high quality non-parental care is available and affordable.
V. Future research directions • More long-term studies: • many interesting policy innovations have not been in place for a sufficient period of time to observe effects with confidence • longer elapsed time periods would also permit the study of potential mediating and moderating factors. • Research on a broader set of outcomes: • for example, health, family functioning, criminality, social cohesion, or happiness.
VI. Current policy challenges • What is the goal of early childhood education -- to promote female employment, gender equity, social cohesion or inclusion, child development, social mobility? • For many countries, the current focus is to: • Improve child development and • Promote social mobility, by reducing disparities. • Given this focus, quality of provision and measures to reduce disparities become central concerns. • Ludovica Gambaro, Kitty Stewart, and I are examining this across countries in a current project (funded by Nuffield Foundation).
VI. Current policy challenges: Delivering quality • Many countries are grappling with questions such as: • What does quality mean in early childhood education? • How can it be measured? • What kind of settings/providers can deliver it? • What kind of staff are required? What training/qualifications do they need? • What staff/child ratios are appropriate? What group sizes? • These questions tend to be particularly challenging with regard to children age 0-2, for whom early childhood education is less developed.
VI. Current policy challenges: Reducing disparities • Countries are grappling with questions here as well: • Are there barriers to participation by low-income families? • What about immigrant families? • If barriers do exist, how can they be addressed? Should incentives should be put in place to increase participation? • The focus on disparities also raises questions about resource allocations: • When resources are limited, should early childhood services be offered first (or only) to disadvantaged children? • Or are there larger benefits to universalism?
VII. Conclusions • We have learned a lot from the new wave of studies about the long-term benefits of both parental leave and early childhood education. • But challenges, and unanswered questions, still remain. • From a policy perspective, the greatest challenge in most countries remains how to ensure that disadvantaged children fully participate in and benefit from early childhood education. • There also remain some questions about what quality provision looks like, particularly for younger children. • And, we still have more to learn about the effects of early childhood education and care on a broader set of outcomes.
For more information • Christopher Ruhm and Jane Waldfogel (2012). “Long-Term Effects of Early Childhood Care and Education.” Nordic Economic Policy Review. • Ludovica Gambaro, Kitty Stewart, and Jane Waldfogel (in progress). Equal Access to Early Childhood Education and Care.