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Increases in Out-of-Pocket Child Care Costs: 1995 to 2016

Publication Date
May 24, 2021

This brief documents the increases in the average amount that families have paid for ECE over two decades among children under age five using data from the National Household Education Survey, Early Childhood Program Participation (NHES-ECPP). The findings show that the child care market has experienced considerable change in recent decades. While families were less likely to pay for ECE arrangements in 2016 than they were in the mid-1990s, those with out-of-pocket expenditures were paying considerably more, on average. For example, hourly ECE payments per child increased 86 percent over this time period. The increases in average payments were evident across different types of care arrangements, ages of the children, and family incomes. However, the growth in payments were larger for upper-income families than they were for lower-income families.

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