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Commentary By Robert VerBruggen

Is the Link Between Day Care and Misbehavior Overstated?

Culture Children & Family

Whether center-based child care affects kids’ misbehavior is a long-running controversy, both in the academic literature and in the “Mommy Wars” writ large. 

From the research, the message has been a modest note of caution. Overall effects are often small and hard to measure, but at least some day care arrangements seem to worsen some kids’ outcomes. Bad results seem most likely, unsurprisingly, when the child care programs in question are lower-quality, or when the families in question can give particularly high-quality care if the child stays home. 

To arrive at these conclusions, some studies have simply looked for correlations between kids’ child care arrangements and their actions, while controlling for confounding factors like parental education. Others, such as an often-cited study of Quebec, Canada, have exploited “natural experiments” where day care abruptly became more widely available.

Continue reading the entire piece here at the Institute for Family Studies


Robert VerBruggen is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.

This piece originally appeared in Institute for Family Studies