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“Investment in early childhood care can be an important determinant of labor-force participation—one of the drivers of economic growth,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last month.
While bipartisan support has grown in recent years for increasing federal investments in young children, disagreements remain over the best way to direct new spending.
Congressional Republicans and some economists cite research showing that while such programs do boost labor-force participation, they don’t always produce better outcomes for children. And some GOP lawmakers say if the federal government wants to subsidize child care, they would rather let households decide whether to provide that care inside or outside the home.
“We can’t just look at this through a technocratic lens of costs and benefits,” said Samuel Hammond, director of poverty and welfare policy at the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank. “We also need to take into account the plurality of lifestyles and preferences that American families have.” In his first address to Congress, President Biden called for huge federal investments, including $2.3 trillion in infrastructure and $1.8 trillion in family and education programs. Gerald F. Seib unpacks the four main takeaways from the speech. (April 29) Photo illustration: Ksenia Shaikhutdinova A wave of women entering the […]