Preferences, Choice, and Consequences
This study investigates (1) what features of child care parents prefer, (2) the impact of these preferences on their child care choice, (3) the effect of the federal child care tax credit on types of care chosen, and (4) the health consequences of different types of group child care. The author finds that working mothers care more about convenience aspects of care that affect their daily lives than the features of care that might promote their child's development. From a multinomial logit model of working mothers' child care choice, the author finds that few economic factors influence the choice between family day care and day care center, but that mothers who place greater emphasis on education components of care are more likely to choose center care. The effect of preferences is also very strong in the choice between home and center care. In addition, the author finds that a $100 increase in the federal child care tax credit would increase the probability of center care by 1 percent. Finally, the analysis of child health impacts indicates that children in group care are ill (measured by the number of days they spend in bed per year) more than children cared for at home, and that children in day care centers are ill more than children in family day care homes, especially at younger ages.