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The Great Recession and Unpaid Work Time in the United States: Does Poverty Matter?

  • Tamar Khitarishvili
  • Kijong Kim

Poverty status is an important factor influencing household production and the unpaid work time associated with it due to the role of household production as a coping strategy in mitigating the impact of economic downturns. In this paper, we examine the presence of poverty-based asymmetries in the unpaid work time changes of men and women during the Great Recession. Using the 2003–12 American Time Use Survey, we find that these changes indeed varied by poverty status. In particular, nonpoor women drove the reduction in unpaid work time among women. Among men, the lack of the change in unpaid work time masked the increase in poor men’s time and the decrease in nonpoor men’s time. Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions of the changes in the unpaid work time reveal that shifts in own and spousal employment status largely account for the gender-based differences in these changes, while shifts in the household structure partially explain the poverty-based differences. Nevertheless, sizable portions of the changes in time use remain unexplained by the shifting individual and household characteristics. The latter finding supports the hypothesis of poverty-based variation in the unpaid work time adjustments in that poor and nonpoor individuals appeared to have responded to the recession in different ways.

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Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_806.

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Date of creation: May 2014
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Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_806
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.levyinstitute.org

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  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. Günseli Berik & Ebru Kongar, 2013. "Time Allocation of Married Mothers and Fathers in Hard Times: The 2007--09 US Recession," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 208-237, July.
  3. Greenwood, J. & Hercowitz, Z., 1991. "The Allocation of Capital and Time Over the Business Cycle," RCER Working Papers 268, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  4. Alexander M. Gelber & Joshua W. Mitchell, 2012. "Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women and Men," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 863-897.
  5. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  7. Gimenez-Nadal, Jose Ignacio & Sevilla, Almudena, 2012. "Trends in time allocation: A cross-country analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1338-1359.
  8. Reuben Gronau, 1976. "Leisure, Home Production and Work--The Theory of The Allocation of Time Revisited," NBER Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Melinda Sandler Morrill & Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia, 2012. "What Effects do Macroeconomic Conditions Have on Families' Time Together?," Working Papers 454, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  10. 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).
  11. Benhabib, Jess & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1991. "Homework in Macroeconomics: Household Production and Aggregate Fluctuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1166-87, December.
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