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Time Use of Mothers and Fathers in Hard Times and Better Times: The US Business Cycle of 2003-10


  • Gunseli Berik
  • Ebru Kongar


The US economic crisis and recession of 2007-09 accelerated the convergence of women's and men's employment rates as men experienced disproportionate job losses and women's entry into the labor force gathered pace. Using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data for 2003-10, this study examines whether the narrowing gap in paid work over this period was mirrored in unpaid work, personal care, and leisure time. We find that the gender gap in unpaid work followed a U-pattern, narrowing during the recession but widening afterward. Through segregation analysis, we trace this U-pattern to the slow erosion of gender segregation in housework and, through a standard decomposition analysis of time use by employment status, show that this pattern was mainly driven by movement toward gender-equitable unpaid hours of women and men with the same employment status. In addition, gender inequality in leisure time increased over the business cycle.

Suggested Citation

  • Gunseli Berik & Ebru Kongar, 2011. "Time Use of Mothers and Fathers in Hard Times and Better Times: The US Business Cycle of 2003-10," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_696, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_696

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mabsout, Ramzi & van Staveren, Irene, 2010. "Disentangling Bargaining Power from Individual and Household Level to Institutions: Evidence on Women's Position in Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 783-796, May.
    2. Morrill, Melinda Sandler & Pabilonia, Sabrina Wulff, 2012. "What Effects Do Macroeconomic Conditions Have on Families' Time Together?," IZA Discussion Papers 6529, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Jay Stewart, 2010. "The Timing of Maternal Work and Time with Children," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 64(1), pages 181-200, October.
    4. Martha MacDonald & Shelley Phipps & Lynn Lethbridge, 2005. "Taking Its Toll: The Influence Of Paid And Unpaid Work On Women'S Well-Being," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 63-94.
    5. Mark A. Aguiar & Erik Hurst & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Time Use During Recessions," NBER Working Papers 17259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jean Kimmel & Rachel Connelly, 2007. "Mothers’ Time Choices: Caregiving, Leisure, Home Production, and Paid Work," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
    7. 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.
    8. Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia & Younghwan Song, 2013. "Single Mothers’ Time Preference, Smoking, and Enriching Childcare: Evidence from Time Diaries," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 424-424.
    9. Fiona MacPhail & Xiao-yuan Dong, 2007. "Women's market work and household status in rural China: Evidence from Jiangsu and Shandong in the late 1990s," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3-4), pages 93-124.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marina Gorsuch, 2016. "Decomposing the increase in men’s time on childcare during the great recession," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 53-82, March.

    More about this item


    Economics of Gender; Unemployment; Time Use; Economic Crises;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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