nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2024‒02‒19
two papers chosen by

  1. The Effect of Cognitive Skills on Fertility Timing By Agustín Díaz Casanueva
  2. Unlocking Potential: Investigating the Prolonged Impact of Formal Childcare Intensity on Non-Cognitive Skills By Lucy Ward

  1. By: Agustín Díaz Casanueva
    Abstract: The paper studies the relationship between cognitive ability, education outcomes, wages, and fertility timing, focusing on how cognitive ability influences fertility decisions. First, the paper presents empirical evidence on the relationship between cognitive ability, early pregnancies, and pregnancy intention using NLSY79 data. Second, I build and estimate a life-cycle model to quantify the importance of cognitive ability, wages, marriage, and edu-cation outcomes on women’s fertility. To explain the data, the model needs heterogeneous contraception costs by ability, as the relation between cognitive ability with education and labor opportunities can not explain the relation of cognitive ability with fertility timing. Next, I use the model to analyze how decreasing contraception costs affect early pregnancies and women’s educational outcomes. Finally, I study the mechanism behind the decline in teen pregnancies during the ’90s.
    Date: 2023–11
  2. By: Lucy Ward (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DT, UK)
    Abstract: To support the expansion of universal early childcare programs, policymakers often refer to the positive outcomes documented in the literature. In reality, the evidence is mixed. In addition, most evidence is based on the impacts of enrolment in childcare for children aged 3-to-5-year-old. This research focuses on the intensity of childcare, measured in hours per week, for children under the age of 3. This area has received very little attention in the literature despite recent policy focus, specifically in the UK, on the number of hours of childcare which should be subsidised. We use data from a large, nationally representative English birth cohort, the Millennium Cohort Study, and an instrumental variables strategy that leverages exogenous variation in both the probability that the mother works shift work and has uncertain working hours to estimate whether hours in formal childcare prior to the age of 3 have an impact on non-cognitive skills at ages 3-14, which are measured by the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), proposed by Goodman (1997). Results indicate that increasing hours in formal childcare has an initial positive impact on non-cognitive skills which persists over time. Moreover, we estimate heterogeneous impacts across family background characteristics, suggesting that increasing access to more time in childcare for disadvantaged children may hold potential for decreasing early inequalities in child development. The results are robust to a number of sensitivity checks including weak instrument robust testing and discussion of potential omitted variables.
    Keywords: Childcare, child outcomes, non-cognitive skills, instrumental variables
    JEL: J13 I21 C26
    Date: 2024–01

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