Variation in Center Quality in a Universal Publicly Subsidized and Regulated Childcare System
Labour Economics, vol.
A large literature suggests that high quality childcare programs can produce positive and lasting effects by promoting math, language and social-emotional skills, referred to as school readiness skills, especially for children of parents with low education. Hence, a universal childcare system with easy access has the potential to make a substantial difference in children's lives and reduce socio-economic disparities in educational outcomes. However, if childcare quality varies across centers, universal childcare systems can also potentially increase disparities in school readiness if the children of more highly-educated parents select into centers of higher quality. Using a unique dataset with one-to-one assessments of school readiness skills among 627 five-year-olds attending 67 different childcare centers, we investigate differences in childcare quality by testing whether covariate adjusted assessments scores are clustered by center. Through fixed effect and random effect analyses, we demonstrate significant variation in school readiness across centers. However, selection into centers of different quality appears to be limited