The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program Kevin Milligan ~ Vancouver School of Economics ~ University of British Columbia

The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program

with Michael Baker and Jonathan Gruber.
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, accepted.
NBER Working Paper No. 21571


Past research has investigated the persistence of positive impacts of early-life interventions on child development as children reach older ages, with the strongest evidence for the importance of non-cognitive skills. We test the symmetry of these findings by studying the persistence of a sizeable negative shock to child development due to the introduction of universal child care in Quebec. We first confirm earlier findings showing reduced contemporaneous outcomes following the program introduction in Quebec. We then examine the persistence of these impacts into older ages in the spheres of non-cognitive skills, cognitive skills, health, and criminal activity. We find that the negative non-cognitive effects persisted to school ages, and also that cohorts with increased child care access subsequently had worse health, lower life satisfaction, and higher crime rates later in life. The impacts on criminal activity are concentrated in boys. Our results reinforce previous evidence on the central role of the early childhood environment for long-run success.


Updated draft, September, 2018: PDF.

Version circulated September 21, 2015: PDF. (Corrects a figure labeling issue with initial NBER-circulated version.)

Presentation Slides (January 2016)

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