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Parental Education and Parental Time With Children

  • Jonathan Guryan
  • Erik Hurst
  • Melissa Schettini Kearney

Parents invest both their material resources and their time into raising their children. Time investment in children is thought to be critical to the development of "quality" children who will become productive adults. This paper has three goals related to the examination of parental time allocated to the care of their children. First, using data from the recent American Time Use Surveys (ATUS), we highlight what we think are the most interesting, and perhaps surprising, cross sectional patterns in time spent with children by parents within the United States. Second, we interpret our results in a Beckerian framework of time allocation with a view toward establishing whether parental childcare appears to be more akin to leisure or home production. Third, we examine data from a sample of 14 countries to establish whether the patterns we observe in the United States hold across countries and within other countries. We show that both within countries and across countries there is a strong positive relationship between parental education, or earnings, and time spent with children. We then show that time spent with children does not follow patterns typical of leisure or home production, suggesting an important difference. We speculate that one reason for this positive education gradient relates to the investment aspect of time spent with children.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13993.

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Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 23-46, Summer.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13993
Note: CH LS PE
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