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How does paid work affect who does the childcare? An analysis of the time use of Australian couples


  • George Argyrous

    () (Australia and New Zealand School of Government)

  • Sara Rahman

    (University of Sydney)


Abstract This paper analyzes the effect of paid work by coupled parents of young children on the joint decisions to spend time engaged in childcare. We explore this using Australian Time-Use Survey data from 2006. We examine the effect of paid work in terms of the effect that total work time on a given day has on the amount of time spent on childcare; the allocation of time on activities across work and non-work days; and the effect of non-traditional work hours. The results show that mothers perform a large share of childcare, irrespective of their earning power or their partner’s availability to take on some of these tasks. The use of formal and informal childcare by others allows the mother to balance the competing demands of work and her own childcare; an effect that does not hold for fathers. These effects on childcare are also almost solely concentrated in the routine component of childcare (e.g. preparing meals, changing nappies), with each parent ‘protecting’ interactive childcare from the effect of both paid work and the relative availability of their partner to take on some of this childcare.

Suggested Citation

  • George Argyrous & Sara Rahman, 2017. "How does paid work affect who does the childcare? An analysis of the time use of Australian couples," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 383-398, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:15:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11150-014-9274-5
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-014-9274-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rachel Connelly & Jean Kimmel, 2009. "Spousal influences on parents’ non-market time choices," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 361-394, December.
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    9. John Sandberg & Sandra Hofferth, 2001. "Changes in children’s time with parents: United States, 1981–1997," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(3), pages 423-436, August.
    10. Lyn Craig & Abigail Powell, 2011. "Non-standard work schedules, work-family balance and the gendered division of childcare," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 25(2), pages 274-291, June.
    11. Rong Wang & Suzanne Bianchi, 2009. "ATUS Fathers’ Involvement in Childcare," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 93(1), pages 141-145, August.
    12. Berenice Monna & Anne Gauthier, 2008. "A Review of the Literature on the Social and Economic Determinants of Parental Time," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 634-653, December.
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    More about this item


    Time-use; Childcare time; Employment; Gender; Time allocation; Australian Time-Use Survey; Hours of work; Labor force participation;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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