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The Rug Rat Race

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  • Garey Ramey
  • Valerie A. Ramey

Abstract

After three decades of decline, the amount of time spent by parents on childcare in the U.S. began to rise dramatically in the mid-1990s. Moreover, the rise in childcare time was particularly pronounced among college-educated parents. Why would highly educated parents increase the amount of time they allocate to childcare at the same time that their own market returns have skyrocketed? After finding no empirical support for standard explanations, such as selection or income effects, we offer a new explanation. We argue that increased competition for college admissions may be an important source of these trends. The number of college-bound students has surged in recent years, coincident with the rise in time spent on childcare. The resulting “cohort crowding” has led parents to compete more aggressively for college slots by spending increasing amounts of time on college preparation. Our theoretical model shows that, since college-educated parents have a comparative advantage in college preparation, rivalry leads them to increase preparation time by a greater amount than less-educated parents. We provide empirical support for our explanation with a comparison of trends between the U.S. and Canada, and a comparison across racial groups in the U.S.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Volume (Year): 41 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring) ()
Pages: 129-199

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Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:41:y:2010:i:2010-01:p:129-199

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Keywords: education; school; mothers; childcare; higher education;

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References

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  1. Zvi Eckstein & Éva Nagypál, 2004. "The evolution of U.S. earnings inequality: 1961?2002," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Dec, pages 10-29.
  2. Alan B. Krueger & Daniel Kahneman & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur A. Stone, 2008. "National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. 1061, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Jean Kimmel & Rachel Connelly, 2007. "Mothers’ Time Choices: Caregiving, Leisure, Home Production, and Paid Work," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
  5. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time With Children," NBER Working Papers 13993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2006. "Cohort Crowding: How Resources Affect Collegiate Attainment," NBER Working Papers 12424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006, 08.
  8. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," NBER Working Papers 15272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  10. Caroline M. Hoxby, 1997. "How the Changing Market Structure of U.S. Higher Education Explains College Tuition," NBER Working Papers 6323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time With Children," NBER Working Papers 13993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gabor Kertesi & Gabor Kezdi, 2014. "On the test score gap between Roma and non-Roma students in Hungary and its potential causes," Budapest Working Papers on the Labour Market, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences 1401, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  3. Christopher L. Smith, 2011. "Polarization, immigration, education: What's behind the dramatic decline in youth employment?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 2011-41, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Kertesi, Gábor & Kézdi, Gábor, 2012. "A roma és nem roma tanulók teszteredményei közti különbségekről és e különbségek okairól
    [The Roma/non-Roma test-score gap in Hungarian education]
    ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 798-853.
  5. Zhu, Guozhong & Vuralz, Gulfer, 2012. "Inter-generational effect of parental time and its policy implications," MPRA Paper 40670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Ed Hopkins, 2005. "Job Market Signalling of Relative Position, or Becker Married to Spence," ESE Discussion Papers, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh 134, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  7. Paula GOBBI, 2013. "Childcare and Commitment within Households," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales), Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) 2013019, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  8. Christian Siegel, 2012. "Female Employment and Fertility - The Effects of Rising Female Wages," CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE dp1156, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Minagawa, Junichi & Upmann, Thorsten, 2013. "A note on parental time allocation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 153-157.
  10. C. Fan & Jie Zhang, 2013. "Differential fertility and intergenerational mobility under private versus public education," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 907-941, July.

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