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Child care, women's employment, and child outcomes

  • Economics
  • Psychology


This paper reviews the evidence on the impact of child care and maternal employment in the pre-school years on child outcomes. This topic has long been of interest to economists, developmental psychologists, and scholars from other disciplines, and has been the focus of increased attention in recent years, as research has provided additional evidence about the processes of development in the earliest days, weeks, and years of life.1 In this paper, I review the evidence on two broad sets of questions: what we know about the potential benefits of early intervention child care programs, and what we know about the effects (whether positive or negative) of maternal employment and child care in the first years of life. The evidence reviewed in this paper suggests that we now know a good deal about both sets of questions. But, this review also suggests that there are important gaps in our knowledge that future work by economists could fruitfully address.

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