Early child care and cognitive development: Evidence from an assignment lottery

Nina Drange and Tarjei Havnes

Journal of Labor Economics

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Young children are thought to be vulnerable to separation from their primary caregiver. This raises concern about whether early child care enrollment may harm child development. We use child care assignment lotteries to estimate the effect of enrollment at age 1–2 on cognitive development in Norway. Estimates show significant gains in language and mathematics at age 6-7, and a substantial drop in scores below publicly set thresholds for low performance. Across subsamples, we find a pattern of stronger effects on under-performing groups. We find little support for child care quality or family income as drivers of our results.

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Published June 24, 2018 8:40 PM - Last modified Feb. 16, 2021 4:48 PM