Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 365–392

Are we investing less in the next generation? Historical trends in time spent caring for children

  • W. Keith Bryant
  • Cathleen D. Zick
Household Time Allocation

DOI: 10.1007/BF02265026

Cite this article as:
Bryant, W.K. & Zick, C.D. J Fam Econ Iss (1996) 17: 365. doi:10.1007/BF02265026


Historical and current data sets are used to trace the time married women and men spend caring for their own children on a daily basis. The data are also used to estimate the total time parents spend in raising two children to the age of 18. The analysis is restricted to primary child care time; i.e., the actual, direct administration of personal care, including physical care (feeding, bathing, dressing, putting to bed) and such other direct personal care as teaching, chauffering, supervising, counseling, managing, training, amusing, and entertaining. Secondary parental child care time is not studied. Although white married women spent about. 56 hours per day per child in primary child care in the 1924–1931 period, by 1981, the time had decreased to about 1.00 hour per day per child. Married men spent 0.25 hours per day per child in 1975, the first year for which national data exists. By 1981, this figure had increased to 0.33 hours per day per child. Raising two children to age 18 required about 5,789 hours of a white, employed, married woman's time and 14,053 hours of a white, unemployed, married woman's time in 1981. Husbands of white, employed married women spent about 1,500 more hours in raising two children to age 18 than the husbands of white, unemployed married women.

Key Words

human capital developmentparental child caretime use

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Keith Bryant
    • 1
  • Cathleen D. Zick
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Consumer Economics and HousingCornell UniversityIthaca
  2. 2.Family and Consumer StudiesUniversity of UtahSalt Lake City