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Evidence of Dynamic Geographic Shifts in Metropolitan Child Care Markets Over the 1990s

IJED, Vol. 9 No. 3, (2007)

This paper provides an exploration of the spatial properties of the child care market. It brings attention to the accumulative impact of neighborhood structural barriers on the geographic distribution patterns of the child care market. In this context, three major questions are addressed: 1) What is the level of access that families have to their neighborhood child care options and is there variation by race, 2) Has access changed over the last decade?, and 3) If it has, what caused the change over the 1990s? Using both the Economic Census and the U.S. Census this research offers a methodology for estimating relative access to formal child care options using the dissimilarity index. Results indicate that nationally the supply of formal child care options within metropolitan areas has improved over the decade and there is significant variation in improvement for residents when race is considered. Generally, improvement in child care access is a result of dynamic metropolitan shifts; that is, new entrants and movement of existing child care facilities to poor access neighborhoods occurred within metropolitan areas over the period between 1990 and 2000.

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