Discussion paper

DP15036 The Effects of Day Care on Health During Childhood: Evidence by Age

Lockdowns with lack of access to day care may have severe detrimental long-run health and behavioral effects on the children involved. This paper studies the effects of day care exposure on behavioral problems and mental health as well as on various aspects of physical health, at various ages during childhood. We draw on a unique set of comprehensive individual-level outpatient and inpatient health care register data merged with other register data. By exploiting variation in day care exposure by age generated by a major day care policy reform, we estimate cumulative and instantaneous effects on child health at different ages. We find sizeable beneficial cumulative impacts of day care on behavioral and mental health at primary school ages, and substitution of the incidence of infections from primary school ages to low ages. The evidence suggests that the main beneficiaries of day care are in low socio-economic households. Day care usage affects health care utilization and leads to a moderate reduction in health care costs.


Van den Berg, G and B Siflinger (2020), ‘DP15036 The Effects of Day Care on Health During Childhood: Evidence by Age‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15036. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15036