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Time for Children: Trends in the Employment Patterns of Parents, 1967–2009

  • Liana Fox


  • Wen-Jui Han
  • Christopher Ruhm
  • Jane Waldfogel

Using data from the 1967–2009 years of the March Current Population Surveys (CPS), we examine two important resources for children’s well-being: time and money. We document trends in parental employment, from the perspective of children, and show what underlies these trends. We find that increases in family work hours mainly reflect movements into jobs by parents—particularly mothers, who in prior decades would have remained at home. This increase in market work has raised incomes for children in the typical two-parent family but not for those in lone-parent households. Time use data from 1975 and 2003–2008 reveal that working parents spend less time engaged in primary childcare than their counterparts without jobs but more than employed peers in previous cohorts. Analysis of 2004 work schedule data suggests that non-daytime work provides an alternative method of coordinating employment schedules for some dual-earner families. Copyright Population Association of America 2013

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Demography.

Volume (Year): 50 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 25-49

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Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:50:y:2013:i:1:p:25-49
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  1. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," NBER Working Papers 7363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Anne H. Gauthier & Timothy M. Smeeding & Frank F. Furstenberg, 2004. "Are Parents Investing Less Time in Children? Trends in Selected Industrialized Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(4), pages 647-672.
  3. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
  4. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2006. "Measuring trends in leisure: the allocation of time over five decades," Working Papers 06-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  5. John Sandberg & Sandra Hofferth, 2001. "Changes in children’s time with parents: United States, 1981–1997," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 423-436, August.
  6. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 7666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jane Waldfogel, 2006. "What do children need?," Public Policy Review, Institute for Public Policy Research, vol. 13(1), pages 26-34.
  8. Suzanne Bianchi, 2000. "Maternal employment and time with children: Dramatic change or surprising continuity?," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 401-414, November.
  9. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
  10. David M. Blau & David K. Guilkey & Barry M. Popkin, 1996. "Infant Health and the Labor Supply of Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 90-139.
  11. Heather Boushey, 2008. "“Opting out?” The effect of children on women's employment in the United States," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 1-36.
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