DP15146 FROEBEL'S GIFTS: HOW THE KINDERGARTEN MOVEMENT CHANGED THE AMERICAN FAMILY

Author(s): Philipp Ager, Francesco Cinnirella
Publication Date: August 2020
Date Revised: June 2021
Keyword(s): child labor, Fertility Transition, Kindergarten Education, Quantity-quality trade-off, School Attendance
JEL(s): I25, J13, N31, O15
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15146

Nineteenth-century social reformers promoted the establishment of kindergartens as a remedy for the problems associated with industrialization and immigration. We evaluate the impact that the roll-out of the first kindergartens in American cities had on mothers and their children. Consistent with the predictions of a quantity-quality trade-off model, immigrant families exposed to kindergartens significantly reduced fertility. Their offspring at age 10-15 were more likely to attend school, they worked less, and as adults, they had fewer children. We also unveil positive language spillover effects of kindergarten education on immigrant mothers illustrating the importance of kindergartens for social integration.