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CEP discussion paper
Understanding day care enrolment gaps
Jonas Jessen, Sophia Schmitz and Sevrin Waights
September 2019
Paper No' CEPDP1650:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I24; J13

Tags: child care; early education; inequality; socio—economic status; discrimination; synthetic control

We document day care enrolment gaps by family background in a country with a universal day care system (Germany). Research demonstrates that children of less educated or foreign-born parents can benefit the most from day care, making it important to understand why such enrolment gaps exist. Using a unique data set that records both stated demand and actual usage of day care we demonstrate that differences in demand cannot fully explain the enrolment gaps. Investigating supply-side factors using quasi-experimental designs, we find that reducing both parental fees and scarcity of places significantly decreases enrolment gaps by parental education but not by parental country of birth. We discuss implications for policy.