Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 16/2021: Behavioral Barriers and the Socioeconomic Gap in Child Care Enrollment

Henning Hermes (), Philipp Lergetporer , Frauke Peter and Simon Wiederhold
Additional contact information
Henning Hermes: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Philipp Lergetporer: Technical University of Munich, TUM School of Management & ifo Institute Munich
Frauke Peter: German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) & DIW Berlin
Simon Wiederhold: KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Ingolstadt School of Management & ifo Institute Munich

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: child care; early childhood; behavioral barriers; information; educational inequality; randomized controlled trial

JEL-codes: C93; I21; J13; J18; J24

67 pages, September 1, 2021

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