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Heterogeneity in Early Life Investments: A Longitudinal Analysis of Children’s Time Use

Listed author(s):
  • Mark E. McGovern

    (CHaRMS – Centre for Health Research at the Management School, Queen’s University Belfast; Centre of Excellence for Public Health (Northern Ireland))

  • Slawa Rokicki

    (Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin)

Early life investments in children promote skills and capabilities, and subsequently influence a variety of health, social, and economic outcomes in later life. In this paper, we examine heterogeneity in children’s time use using diary data from two waves of a nationally representative longitudinal cohort study. Children from disadvantaged households spend significantly less time reading and engaging in sport than their counterparts, and more time in unstructured activities and using media. Though gaps are relatively small at age 9, they widen considerably over time. At age 13, girls in households with low maternal education spend on average 6 minutes per day reading (95% CI 3-10) and 12 minutes per day in sport (95% CI 8-16), while girls in households with high maternal education spend 14 minutes reading (95% CI 11-17) and 27 minutes in sport (95% CI 23-31). Similar differences were found for boys. Using a decomposition analysis, we find that resources, preferences, initial endowments, and differential costs all play a role in explaining time use concentration across households, indicating that disadvantaged families may be constrained in how they choose their preferred time use options. Given the important role of extra-curricular activities in promoting cognitive and non-cognitive skill development, the systematic differences in time use we document in this paper are likely to contribute to cumulative disadvantage and widening skill gaps over adolescence and into adulthood.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/gearywp201703.pdf
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Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201703.

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Length: 77 pages
Date of creation: 12 Jan 2017
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201703
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