Time with sons and daughters
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We present a model of parental investment in child quality in which the effectiveness—objectively or as perceived by the parents—of parental childcare depends on the sex of the child. In particular, the time of the same-sex parent is more productive than that of the opposite-sex parent. When parents have equal wages, efficiency considerations dictate that a parent spends more time with a same-sex child than with an opposite-sex child, but parents allocate the same total time to boys and girls, and costs of raising a boy are the same as raising a girl. When wage rates differ, and the mother is the lower-waged parent, it is cheaper to produce child quality of girls than of boys. We show that many of the empirical results in terms of a different time allocation pattern, total amount of time invested in a child, expenditures on child consumption goods, and family size and composition can be explained by this technological difference and the gender wage gap, without relying on parental preferences for girls versus boys. Our analysis is largely diagrammatic.
KeywordsParents Child quality Childcare time Gender wage gap
JEL ClassificationD13 J13 J16 J22 J24
We thank the editor of this journal, two anonymous referees, Frances Woolley, and participants in a session at the 2010 annual meetings of the Canadian Economics Association, and in seminars at the University of Victoria, Canada, and the Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria for helpful comments. The authors blame all errors on each other.
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