Published 12 December 2014
Worldwide, non-maternal child care during the first years of life has gradually become more prevalent. However, there is little evidence for Chile about the benefit of early attendance at centre-based care—especially universal early childhood programs for under-three-year-olds—and child development. This study explores the association between two-year-olds’ attendance at day care and child development. Attendance at day care (versus maternal care) between the ages of 24 and 36 months is positively associated with child cognitive development and shows insignificant association with child socio-emotional development. In addition, more daily hours in centre-based care is positively associated with cognitive outcomes, but negatively associated with socio-emotional outcomes. Additionally, the association between attendance at centre-based care and socio-emotional outcomes is more negative for children of lower income households relative to children of higher income households. The analyses use a Chilean panel survey and control for child, maternal, and family characteristics as well as for unobserved individual fixed effects. The results are consistent using both OLS regressions and propensity score matching techniques. Implications for future research and social policies are discussed.