SIEPR Discussion paper No. 08-001
Preschoolers Enrolled and Mothers at Work? The Effects of Universal Pre-Kindergarten
Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick
Three states recently introduced Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs offering free preschool to all age-eligible children; policy makers in many other states are promoting similar programs. Using restricted-access data from the Census, together with year and birthday based eligibility cutoffs, I employ a regression discontinuity framework to estimate the effects of Universal Pre-K availability on overall preschool enrollment and maternal labor supply. Universal Pre-K availability increases statewide preschool enrollment by at least 14 percent but has little effect on the labor supply of most women. The exception is women residing in rural areas, whose probability of being employed increases by 20 percent.
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