Parental Child Care in Single Parent, Cohabiting, and Married Couple Families: Time Diary Evidence from the United Kingdom

Charlene M. Kalenkoski, Ohio University
David C. Ribar, George Washington University
Leslie Stratton, Virginia Commonwealth University

Research overwhelmingly indicates that developmental outcomes are better, on average, for children raised in two-parent families than other families. However, the exact mechanism underlying this association remains murky. Household production theory, which posits that married, and possibly cohabiting, parents enjoy more time resources and greater opportunities for specialization than single parents, offers a potential explanation. This study adopts a household production framework and investigates differences in the time that single, cohabiting, and married parents devote to raising their children. The study uses time-diary data from the 2000 United Kingdom Time Use Survey to estimate a system of censored regression models in which parents’ daily time spent in different caregiving activities and market work are dependent variables. A system approach is used to account for correlations among the unobserved determinants of time use. Differences by the gender of the parents are examined.

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Presented in Session 16: Marriage, Cohabitation, and Children