Promoting Family Economic Self-Sufficiency: The Impact of Head Start on Maternal Human Capital Investment

by Cuiping Long

Institution: University of Illinois – Chicago
Year: 2016
Keywords: Head Start; Child Care Subsidies; Maternal Labor Supply
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064276
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10027/20190


It is widely believed that promoting employment among low-income families and, in particular, among low-income mothers may be one of most important social policies we have to combat poverty. One such program that relieves child-care costs and may potentially influence maternal employment is the Head Start program. Despite the large scale of the program, little is known as to how the Head Start subsidy may affect low-income mothers’ labor supply. In this work, I investigate the effect of Head Start participation on mothers’ labor supply, schooling, income, and welfare participation. I employ both experimental and quasi-experimental research designs using two sources of data that span 30 years of Head Start. In the first part of my analyses, I exploit the randomized experiment from the Head Start Impact Study (2002-2008) to examine how the availability of Head Start affect child care choices, maternal labor supply, and maternal schooling in recent years. In the second part of my analyses, I use the non-public decennial censuses of 1970 to investigate the effect of the Head Start program in its early years. I exploit a discontinuity in the county-level Head Start funding beginning in the late 1960s to explore differences in county-level maternal employment and maternal schooling. Overall, the findings from both data sources suggest that the availability of Head Start did not increase labor market entry. However, the availability facilitated full- time employment and school enrollment for some mothers in recent periods (i.e., early 2000s). Advisors/Committee Members: Kaestner, Robert (advisor).