Caught in the Middle: Educational Differentials in the Relationship between Work, Time with Children and Child Development

Amy Hsin, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)
Christina Felfe, University of St.Gallen

We test the two assumptions underlying the claim that maternal employment negatively affects children by reducing maternal time investments: (1) maternal employment reduces time investments in children and (2) time investments affect child outcomes. We explicitly examine educational disparities in these relationships. We analyze longitudinal time diary data and employ OLS, fixed effect and instrumental variable estimation to better account for unobserved heterogeneity. For the highest educated, work has no affect on time investments and time has no effect on children. For the least educated, work has no effect on time investments but time actually increases the likelihood of behavioral problems. For those in the middle, work is negatively related to time yet time is positively related to child outcomes. Time is a mechanism linking maternal employment and child outcomes for families in the “middle.” Their children benefit from maternal time but their mothers have the greatest difficulty balancing work and family.

  See paper

Presented in Session 133: Parental Time Use and Parenting