Regional variation in child care prices: A cross-state analysis

Elizabeth E Davis, Naichia Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A recent study reported that the average annual fees for full-time infant care in a child care center ranged from $3,803 in Alabama to $13,480 in Massachusetts. This study analyses this variation in state-level average child care center prices using a standard economic model of supply and demand. We found that a large proportion of the variation in average child care prices can be explained by a small set of variables, including median family income, wages paid to child care workers, and the number of young children in the state. Although the government plays an important role in the child care market, the wide variation in average fees across states mostly reflects what parents can afford to pay. Given the importance of quality child care to current workforce needs and future human capital development, strategies to increase affordability such as child care subsidies and tax credits should be considered along with direct investments in quality improvements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-54
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Regional Analysis and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 8 2009

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