Child care before age two and the development of language and numeracy. Evidence from a lottery

Nina Drange and Tarjei Havnes

Discussion Paper SSB No. 808


Young children are thought to be vulnerable to separation from the primary caregiver/s. This raises
concern about whether early child care enrollment may harm children's development. We use child
care assignment lotteries to estimate the effect of child care starting age on early cognitive
achievement in Oslo, Norway. Getting a lottery offer lowers starting age by about four months, from a
mean of about 19 months in the control group. Lottery estimates show significant score gains for
children at age seven. Survey evidence and an increase in employment of both mothers and fathers
following the offer, suggest that parental care is the most relevant alternative mode of care. We
document that the assignment lottery generates balance in observable characteristics, supporting
our empirical approach. 

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Published June 24, 2018 8:40 PM - Last modified Aug. 17, 2018 2:01 PM