Parental child care during and outside of typical work hours
- 214 Downloads
It has been argued that child care should be treated separately from leisure or housework when analyzing time use data. This is because child care has a positive income gradient, whereas leisure and housework do not. Using U.S. data from PSID-CDS, this paper computes parental child care during and outside of typical work hours (TWH) by income quintile for two-parent families. The TWH distinction is important because the opportunity cost of spending time with children is first and foremost in terms of forgone earnings during TWH; outside of TWH, leisure or housework mainly constitute this opportunity cost. Indeed, I find that child care decreases with income during TWH and, hence, behaves similarly to leisure and other household chores. While maternal child care also slightly decreases with income outside of TWH, paternal care increases with income outside of TWH. Also, the discrepancy between paternal and maternal child care is smaller outside of TWH than it is during TWH. This is particularly pronounced in high income families. Theoretical implications are derived in a static framework of time allocation and child quality production encompassing the recent literature on the topic. Variation in child care during TWH can be rationalized by assuming a high elasticity of substitution between leisure, consumption and child quality. This is the standard explanation for the patterns observed in leisure and housework. Within this widely used framework, however, the facts outside of TWH point to systematic differences by income in preferences or productivity. Further exploration of child care patterns during and outside of TWH is needed to inform us about the dimensions in which this widely used framework should be extended.
KeywordsParental child care Opportunity cost Typical work hours Child quality
Mathematics Subject ClassificationD13 J13
The author thanks David Frisvold, Martin Gervais, Paula Gobbi, Lev Lvovskiy and Michèle Tertilt as well as four anonymous referees for helpful comments.
- Abbott, B. (2015). The effect of parental composition on investments in children. Working paper, Yale UniversityGoogle Scholar
- Aguiar, M., & Hurst, E. (Forthcoming). Handbook of macroeconomics. Elsevier, chap The Marcoeconomics of Time Allocation.Google Scholar
- Espenshade, T. J. (1984). Investing in Children: New Estimates of Parental Expenditures. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
- Folbre, N. (2008). Valuing children: Rethinking the economics of the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Gobbi, P. (2013). Childcare and commitment within households. Discussion Paper 2013019, Université Catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).Google Scholar
- Lazear, E. P., & Michael, R. T. (1980). Family size and the distribution of real per capita income. American Economic Review, 70(1), 91–107.Google Scholar
- Lino, M. (2001). Expenditures on children by families, 2000 annual report. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1528-2000.Google Scholar
- Ramey, G., & Ramey, V. A. (2010). The rug rat race. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (pp. 129–199).Google Scholar