PRS Research Seminar: The Impact of Affordable Day Care on Women's Work: Preliminary Findings from an RCT in a Slum Settlement of Nairobi

a Seminar

Shelley Clark (McGill University, Centre on Population Dynamics)

Tuesday, 4/18/2017, 12:00 to 1:30.   ARCHIVED EVENT

Location: 1430BD, ISR-Thompson

In most parts of the world women shoulder the primary responsibilities associated with caring for their young children. While much of this work goes unrecognized, the time and energy women de-vote to this task may restrict their participation in the paid labor force. Although women around the globe face the challenge of simultaneously managing their child care obligations and the demands of paid employment, for women living in poor, urban settings these difficulties may be particularly acute. This study was designed to rigorously test whether expanding access to subsidized and better quality day care to mothers living in a slum community in Nairobi would increase their a) day care utilization, b) participation in the labor force, and c) number of hours worked or earnings. Using an RCT study design, we engaged 1,222 mothers with children aged 1 to 3 (inclusive) and offered two-thirds of them access to free day care services for one year. In one-third of the day care centers we also trained care-givers in early childhood development and provided educational and material support. Our preliminary findings suggest that providing women in resource poor settings with subsidized, quality child care could be an effective strategy to improve their labor market outcomes and reduce gender inequalities.


Shelley Clark is a demographer whose research focuses on gender, health, and life course transitions in sub-Saharan Africa. After receiving her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1999, Dr. Clark work at the Population Council in New York and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, before joining the Department of Sociology at McGill. Clark is the founding Director of the Centre on Population Dynamics and also directs the CFI-funded Life History, Health, and HIV/AIDS data laboratory. Much of her research examines how adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa make key transitions to adulthood in the midst of an on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic. In particular, her work has focused on how the transition into marriage shapes the risks of HIV/AIDS among young women in sub-Saharan Africa. Her current work examines how family dynamics and kin support influence of well-being of women and children in sub-Saharan Africa with special attention drawn to the needs of single mothers. Her findings have been published in leading journals, such as Demography, Population and Development Review, Social Forces, and Journal of Marriage and Family, and presented to policy makers at influential international organizations, including the World Bank, WHO, UN NGO-CSW, UNFPA/UNICEF, and the Population Council.

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