37 research outputs found

    The Structure of Early Care and Education in the United States: Historical Evolution and International Comparisons

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    Most European governments have universal, consolidated, education-based ECE programs that are available from early in the morning to late in the evening throughout the year. European ECE programs are uniformly of high quality, generally last at least three years, and are funded to serve all children. The US ECE system is composed of three separate programs (Head Start, Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) and the child care voucher program) targeted to low-income children. With a few notable exceptions, US ECE programs are funded to serve less than half of the eligible children. US ECE programs developed quite separately. They have different goals, different funding sources, different administrations and policies, and generally last for an academic year or less. Pre-K and Head Start operate only 3 to 6 hours a day and are open only during the academic year. The average quality of US ECE programs is generally much lower than the average quality of European ECE programs. Further, the quality of US ECE programs varies widely even within local areas. Although the US has greatly increased expenditures on ECE, US governments pay only 40% of the costs of ECE, while European governments pay 70% to 90% of the costs of ECE. None of the major US ECE programs simultaneously provides work supports for parents, child development opportunities for children and preparation for school for low-income children. The evidence suggests that the US ECE system is neither efficient nor equitable. Consolidation of funding and administration of current US ECE programs could substantially lower transaction costs for parents and provide more stable care arrangements for children. Increased funding could improve the quality of existing programs, extend hours and months of operation, and make care available to all eligible families. Both the evaluation literature and the European experience suggest that such a consolidated, well-funded system could be successful in preparing poor children for school. Further, the benefits of such a program could well exceed the costs since it is precisely low-income children that benefit most from stable, high-quality ECE. However, such a targeted program will have neither the positive peer group effects nor the social-integration benefits of universal ECE programs.

    What We Spend and What We Get: Public and Private Provision of Crime Prevention

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    In this paper, we consider a number of issues regarding crime prevention and criminal justice. We begin by considering how crime is measured and present both general and specific evidence on the level of crime in a variety of countries. Crime is pervasive and varies substantially across countries. We outline the arguments for some public roll in crime prevention, enforcement, prosecution, defence, and adjudication. We consider the relative role of the public and private sectors in crime control and criminal justice. We discuss various measures for the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. We conclude by suggesting some potential areas for research.

    Estimating Hedonic Models: Implications of the Theory

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    In this paper we consider the conditions under which instrumental variables methods are required in estimating a hedonic price function and its accompanying demand and supply relations. We assume simple functional forms that permit an explicit solution for the equilibrium hedonic price function. The principles are the same for models in which no analytic solution exists, but having the solutions makes the issues far more transparent. The need for instrumental variables estimation is directly analogous for the classical demand and supply model with undifferentiated products and for the hedonic model with differentiated products. In estimating individual demand and supply functions, instrumental variables estimation is required if the consumer and firm unobservables, which give rise to the error terms in the demand and supply functions, are correlated across consumers/firms within a community. In estimating inverse demand/supply functions, which are referred to as bid/offer functions in the hedonic model, instrumental variables estimation is required even if the unobservables are not correlated across agents within a community. If the unobservables are not correlated across agents within a community, then community binaries or the means of observable consumer and firm characteristics can be used as instruments. If the unobservables are correlated then only the latter can be used. The error term in the hedonic price function is often assumed to be uncorrelated with the chosen attributes. This assumption may be reasonable if consumers have quasilinear preferences. If not, then the error term in the price function may affect the utility-maximizing amounts of the attributes. The feasible instruments again depend upon whether the error term is correlated for agents within a community. If not, then community binaries or observed individual characteristics may be used as instruments. If so, then the community binaries are correlated with the error terms and cannot serve as instruments.

    Take-Up Rates and Trade Offs After the Age of Entitlement: Some Thoughts and Empirical Evidence for Child Care Subsidies

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    In this paper we develop a model of an eligible family's decision to take or not to take child care subsidies. This decision depends on the net benefits the family expects to derive from the subsidies over their expected duration. We contend that such a demand-side model for the take-up of child care subsidies and use of the term 'take-up' rate are only appropriate for programs that guarantee services to all eligible applicants. After welfare reform, most states do not offer such guarantees. For states that do not guarantee subsidies, the proportion of the eligible population that receives subsidies is better called a service rate than a take-up rate. Modeling service rates requires consideration of both governments' decisions (the supply side) and families' decisions (the demand side) regarding child care subsidies. We survey the general literature on take-up rates for social welfare programs and review existing estimates of the take-up rates and service rates for child care subsidy programs in various states. Using administrative data and survey data for states that guarantee subsidies for all eligible families, we estimate the family-level take-up rate for child care subsidies to be around 40% in early 2000. For states that do not guarantee subsidies, service rates range from 14% in Minnesota to 50% in Massachusetts. Finally, we suggest indicators to assess the trade offs that governments are making when designing and funding their child care subsidy programs. We use the percent of federally eligible families that receive child care subsidies and public expenditures per subsidized child to discern the relative importance that states place on using child care subsidies (1) to facilitate parental work and (2) to prepare its future work force by improving services to low-income children. For Rhode Island, we find increasing emphasis on the latter between 1996 and 2000. We also find that the Illinois subsidized child care program places relatively more emphasis on parental work facilitation, while Minnesota's program makes a more substantial investment in children through relatively more comprehensive and in-depth services.

    Predicting Criminal Recidivism Using "Split Population" Survival Time Models

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    In this paper we develop a survival time model in which the probability of eventual failure is less than one, and in which both the probability of eventual failure and the timing of failure depend (separately) on individual characteristics. We apply this model to data on the tiring of return to prison for a sample of prison releasees, and we use it to make predictions of whether or not individuals return to prison. Our predictions are more accurate than previous predictions of criminal recidivism. The model we develop has potential applications in economics: far example, it could tie used to model the probability of default and the timing of default on loans.

    Impacts of Eligibility Expansions and Provider Reimbursement Rate Increases on Child Care Subsidy Take-Up Rates, Welfare Use and Work

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    We find that reforms in the Rhode Island subsidized child care program, including income and age eligibility expansions and increases in the reimbursement rates paid to formal providers, significantly increased the likelihood that current and former welfare families: a) would use child care subsidies and b) would work 20 or more hours per week. In addition, these policy changes significantly increased the probability that family heads of household would leave welfare for work. The most powerful impact of the Rhode Island changes in child care policies was on families that had left welfare (i.e., former cash recipients) and that worked at least 20 hours per week. These policy changes had less effect on families receiving cash assistance and enrolled in some approved activity (e.g., education or training) other than work. We were not able to assess the impact of the Rhode Island policy changes on families who were never on cash assistance. However, the large increase in the number of such families receiving child care subsidies after the reforms were instituted suggests that the impact may have been substantial. We also estimate that Rhode Island's reform of its cash assistance program and of its child care subsidy program, in combination, almost tripled the probability that a typical head of household currently or formerly receiving welfare would work 20 or more hours per week (i.e., the probability increased from 7% in the second quarter of 1996 to 22% in the second quarter of 2000) and almost halved the probability that a single mother in the sample would be on cash assistance and neither working nor in some other approved activity (i.e., such probability decreased from 47% in the second quarter of 1996 to 25% in the second quarter of 2000).

    Beating the System?

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    Provision of Child Care: Cost Functions for Profit-Making and Not-for-Profit Day Care Centers

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    This paper estimates cost functions for day care centers in Massachusetts. The production technology assumed is the generalized homothetic Cobb-Douglas production function. The cost function dual to this production function is estimated separately for profit-making (P1Os) and not-for-profit (NPOs) organizations. The results are discussed in the context of current NPO literature. NPOs are found to be operating at higher average coats than PMOs for most output levels as predicted by the literature. However, the provision of more staff per child hour, our measure of quality, increases coats by similar amounts in PMOs and NPOs. Further, present forms of subsidies do not help either PMOs or NPOs, and in fact, promote 'shirking' in NPOs. PMOs are not optimizing with reference to the amount of education and experience in their personnel. The results suggest that experienced labor may be working for less than its marginal product in the day care industry.
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