IZA DP No. 10383: The Impact of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems on Families' Child Care Choices and the Supply of Child Care Labor
Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are increasingly deployed by states to monitor and improve the quality of non-parental child care settings. By making information on program quality accessible to the public, QRIS attempts to alter parental preferences for quality-related attributes and encourage competition between providers. This paper draws on a variety of datasets to empirically characterize the way in which families and providers respond to the enactment of QRIS. Specifically, it exploits the differential timing in states' QRIS roll-out to examine two sets of outcomes: (i) families' child care choices and maternal employment and (ii) the supply and compensation of child care labor. Estimates from difference-in-differences models reveal several noteworthy findings. First, although QRIS induces families to shift from parental to non-parental care, economically disadvantaged families are more likely to use informal care, while their advantaged counterparts are more likely to use formal care. Second, QRIS increases the supply of high-skilled labor, particularly within the center-based sector. Third, all but the most highly-skilled child care workers experience rising compensation levels but also greater turnover. Finally, states that administer a wage compensation program alongside their QRIS experience larger increases in child care supply and compensation as well as lower turnover rates than states operating a QRIS in isolation.