The geographic accessibility of child care subsidies and evidence on the impact of subsidy receipt on childhood obesity

Chris Herbst, Erdal Tekin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of the spatial accessibility of public human services agencies on the likelihood of receiving a child care subsidy among disadvantaged mothers with young children. In particular, we collect data on the location of virtually every human services agency in the US and use this information to calculate the approximate distance that families must travel from home in order to reach the nearest office that administers the subsidy application process. Using data from the Kindergarten cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), our results indicate that an increase in the distance to a public human services agency reduces the likelihood that a family receives a child care subsidy. Specifically, we estimate an elasticity of subsidy receipt with respect to distance of -0.13. The final section of the paper provides an empirical application in which we use variation in families' travel distance to identify the causal effect of child care subsidies on children's weight outcomes. Our instrumental variables estimates suggest that subsidized child care leads to sizeable increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among low-income children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Urban Economics
Volume71
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • Child care subsidies
  • Childhood obesity
  • Program participation
  • Spatial accessibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies

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