Studies in recent years show that universal child care has a beneficial impact on children‘s outcomes (e.g., Havnes/Mogstad 2009, 2011, Datta‐Gupta/Simonsen 2010, 2011). However evidence remains mixed on whether all types of day care attendance have a positive effect on children's development. Some papers show that day care attendance can also negatively influence child outcomes: e.g. Seyda (2009) or Landvogit et al. (2007) examine if day care attendance increases children's likelihood to attend higher secondary education by accounting for full-time and part-time day care attendance. Both studies conclude that a longer duration decreases children's likelihood of higher secondary schooling. Yet, these studies investigate attendance vs. non‐attendance, or formal care vs. informal care, but day care "quantity" and day care quality are rarely differentiated.
By combining data from the German Socio-Economic Panel study (SOEP) and administrative data on day care quality, this paper examines potential effects of duration of day care attendance as well as the underlying structural quality of day care institutions at the "Jugendamtsbezirk" (youth welfare office) level on changes in children's health or personality traits. If parents regard day care as an investment in the human capital of children, they were to prefer day care centers with "better" quality. Day care facilities vary in terms of structural quality, e.g. staff-child-ratio, group size, or education of day care teachers. Hence while it might be beneficial to attend a day care center, a longer stay at a facility with mediocre quality might have negative consequences. This paper investigates in what way a child's duration of day care attendance and the quality of day care facilities influences differences in children's health or personality traits between age three and six. Preliminary results indicate that day care quality explains some of the variation in children's health and personality traits between age three and six.