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Boy-Girl Differences in Parental Time Investments: Evidence from Three Countries

  • Michael Baker
  • Kevin Milligan

We study differences in the time parents spend with girls and boys at preschool ages in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. We refine previous evidence that fathers commit more time to boys, showing this greater commitment emerges with age and is not present for very young children. We next examine differences in specific parental teaching activities such as reading and the use of number and letters. We find the parents commit more of this time to girls, starting at ages as young as 9 months. We explore possible explanations of this greater commitment to girls including explicit parental preference and boy-girl differences in costs of these time inputs. Finally, we offer evidence that these differences in time inputs are potentially important: in each country the boy-girl difference in inputs can account for a non-trivial proportion of the boy-girl difference in preschool reading and math scores.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18893.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18893
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," NBER Working Papers 5778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Borooah, Vani, 2004. "Gender Bias Among Children in India in their Diet and Immunisation Against Disease," MPRA Paper 19590, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 1999. "The Effect of Sons and Daughters on Men's Labor Supply and Wages," Working Papers 0033, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
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  6. Jason Abrevaya, 2009. "Are There Missing Girls in the United States? Evidence from Birth Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-34, April.
  7. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan, 2013. "The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-64, January.
  8. Silvia Helena Barcellos & Leandro Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2010. "Child Gender and Parental Investments in India: Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?," Working Papers 756, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  9. Björklund, Anders & Ginther, Donna K. & Sundström, Marianne, 2010. "Does Marriage Matter for Children? Assessing the Impact of Legal Marriage in Sweden," Working Paper Series 3/2010, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  10. Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2009. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," NBER Working Papers 15041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Anna Aizer & Flávio Cunha, 2012. "The Production of Human Capital: Endowments, Investments and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 18429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Cornwell, Christopher & Mustard, David B. & Van Parys, Jessica, 2011. "Non-cognitive Skills and the Gender Disparities in Test Scores and Teacher Assessments: Evidence from Primary School," IZA Discussion Papers 5973, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Joseph Price, 2008. "Parent-Child Quality Time: Does Birth Order Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  14. Shelly Lundberg, 2005. "Sons, Daughters, and Parental Behaviour," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 340-356, Autumn.
  15. 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.
  16. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
  17. Roland G. Fryer, Jr & Steven D. Levitt, 2009. "An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics," NBER Working Papers 15430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Jacob, Brian A., 2002. "Where the boys aren't: non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 589-598, December.
  19. Brian A. Jacob, 2002. "Where the boys aren't: Non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," NBER Working Papers 8964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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