Headshot of Natalie Baker
MPA 2024
WAPPP Intern, Adrienne Hall
Tax and Transfer Policy Institute; Canberra, Australia

Natalie is researching with the Australian Tax and Transfer Policy Institute on women's workforce participation and childcare contribution. This will involve empirical work to understand if the responsiveness of parental work choices to childcare prices is changing over time. Overall, existing literature suggests that reducing the cost of childcare increases workforce participation and hours worked. Yet different findings across studies suggest a degree of ambiguity in the effect size across different groups and contexts—and potentially that parental responsiveness is falling. This research is particularly pertinent in the US and Australia, as two high-income countries are below the OECD average for maternal employment, government expenditure on childcare, and childcare use for 3- to 5-year-olds. Australia and the US are also interesting case study countries as both reduced their workforce participation gender gaps in the last two decades, albeit in opposing ways: given steadily increasing female participation in the case of Australia and declining male participation in the US. Ultimately, this project will contribute to the evidence base to better design childcare subsidy programs as a key policy lever to enable women's labor market participation and economic opportunity, alongside supporting child development. This project would aid the future design of childcare subsidies, particularly in targeting finite government funding to families who could most benefit — a salient issue for many local, state, and federal governments.

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