The Impact of Child Care Proximity on Labor Force Participation of Parents
This study examines the effects of the proximity of formal and informal child care on mothers' employment status and mothers' and fathers' hours worked. The study uses individual-level data which are a better measure of child care proximity than county- and state-level data. These data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLS97), Round 9 (2005) which contains detailed information about child care including travel time to a relative, a family day care provider, and center care. The study uses an ordered probit model to estimate employment status and a tobit model to estimate hours worked. The results vary for different modes of child care. The results show that proximity to a family day care provider has a positive and substantial impact on employment status and hours worked by mothers. This study also finds that child care proximity positively impacts labor force participation of single and married mothers, while it does not affect the labor force participation of cohabiting mothers. For single mothers, proximity to center care has an impact on employment status, while proximity to relatives affects hours worked. For married mothers, proximity to a family day care provider and center care influences both employment status and hours worked. The study finds that child care proximity does not influence hours worked by present fathers. These results suggest that child care proximity is an important factor explaining labor force participation, and that public policy makers need to consider it in formulating child care policy to enhance mothers' labor force participation.
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