DP16501 Behavioral Barriers and the Socioeconomic Gap in Child Care Enrollment

Author(s): Henning Hermes, Philipp Lergetporer, Frauke Peter, Simon Wiederhold
Publication Date: September 2021
Keyword(s): behavioral barriers, Child Care, Early Childhood, educational inequality, Information, randomized controlled trial
JEL(s): C93, I21, J13, J18, J24
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16501

Children with lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to benefit more from early child care, but are substantially less likely to be enrolled. We study whether reducing behavioral barriers in the application process increases enrollment in child care for lower-SES children. In our RCT in Germany with highly subsidized child care (n > 600), treated families receive application information and personal assistance for applications. For lower-SES families, the treatment increases child care application rates by 21 pp and enrollment rates by 16 pp. Higher-SES families are not affected by the treatment. Thus, alleviating behavioral barriers closes half of the SES gap in early child care enrollment.