Access to universal childcare and its effect on maternal employment

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Subsidized childcare is a key instrument to support maternal employment in most OECD countries. Using a major reform implemented in Luxembourg in 2009, I study the effects of expanding access to subsidized childcare on the employment decisions of women in a context where childcare is universal and heavily subsidized, but is limited by capacity constraints. The identification strategy relies on temporal variation across age groups of children. In response to the reform, the employment rate of mothers increased by 3 percentage points, and their working time grew by 1 h per week. This effect hides the difference between children’s ages, as mothers of the youngest children are found to be more responsive to the reform than mothers of children in primary education. Studying heterogeneous effects reveals a differential impact of the reform with regard to prior employment status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-532
Number of pages36
JournalReview of Economics of the Household
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is part of the CHILDCARE project “Optimal policies in the market for childcare: theory and evidence from Luxembourg,” supported by the National Research Fund, Luxembourg (contract FNR/C14/SC/8337045). I would like to thank Andrea Albanese, Michela Bia, Arnaud Dupuy, Alessio Fusco, Peter Shirley, and Konstantinos Tatsiramos for their valuable comments, as well as participants at various seminars and conferences for helpful discussions. I am particularly grateful to two anonymous referees and the editor-in-chief and co-editor of the journal for their constructive comments and suggestions. All errors and omissions remain my own.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • maternal employment
  • Luxembourg
  • childcare

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