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Work, Childcare, or Both? Experimental Evidence on the Efficacy of Childcare Subsidies in Raising Parental Labor Supply

Christoph Zangger (), Janine Widmer () and Sandra Gilgen ()
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Christoph Zangger: University of Zurich
Janine Widmer: University of Bern
Sandra Gilgen: University of Bern

Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 2021, vol. 42, issue 3, No 4, 449-472

Abstract: Abstract As a policy tool aimed at raising parental labor supply, childcare subsidies come with high expectations. Using data from a factorial survey conducted in the City of Bern, Switzerland, we examine whether childcare subsidies reach their goal. Because of the simultaneity of the decision to take up a job and arranging childcare, we experimentally alter hypothetical income (e.g., gross earnings from a job, income from other sources) as well as aspects of the childcare setting including subsidy levels. Using an alternative-specific conditional logit model, we show that subsidies have the expected effect of increasing parents’ labor supply. Moreover, the results from simulations based on the estimated utility function show that varying subsidy levels have different effects on subgroups of parents. Subsidies are especially efficient in raising the labor supply of low-status parents, and especially for women. We also find that subsidies already have the desired effect at 25% of total childcare costs and that the marginal utility of higher subsidy levels decreases beyond that threshold. Subsidies covering 25% of the total costs for childcare lead to an approximately 2 h per week increase in the labor supply of women.

Keywords: Labor supply; Childcare subsidies; Factorial survey experiment; Family policy; Economics of the household (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10834-020-09749-x

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