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The influence of wages on parents’ allocations of time to child care and market work in the United Kingdom


We use time-diary data on couples with children from the 2000 United Kingdom Time Use Survey to examine the impacts of own and partner’s wages on parents’ provision of child care and market work on weekdays and on weekends and holidays. We find that increases in partners’ wages increase women’s primary care on all days and decrease their market work on weekdays, while increases in women’s own wages increase their market work on weekdays. There is little evidence that men’s time use responds to changes in their own wages. However, an increase in men’s partners’ wages increases men’s passive child-care time on weekends and reduces their market-work time on weekends.

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  1. 1.

    Authors’ calculation from Statistics UK data.

  2. 2.

    There is a related sociological literature that has examined how the provision of child care is related to own and partners’ work hours. For example, Nock and Kingston (1988) found that the amount of time that married parents spend in different types of child care activities is sensitive to each parent’s work schedule. Bryant and Zick (1996) found that increases in mothers’ work times only modestly reduced the time they spent in family care and did not affect the time that fathers spent in this activity. Bianchi (2000) has reported surprising evidence that mothers’ time spent with children has increased slightly over time, even as more mothers have entered the labor force.

  3. 3.

    The UKTUS does not identify the specific people who are present during an activity. Instead, for most activities, it lists categories of people present, including household children up to age 9, household children ages 10–14, other household members, and other known persons.

  4. 4.

    One might include commuting time as a market work activity, as it captures time away from home that otherwise could be used for child care. However, parents dropping off children at school or day care on the way to work may lengthen their commute to work, thus making it difficult to disentangle work-related and child-care time. Alternative estimates of our time-use models that include commuting time in the measure of market-work time were quite similar to those reported here that do not.


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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2006 North American Winter meetings of the Econometric Society and as a poster at the May 2006 meetings of the Society of Labor Economists. The authors would like to thank Robert Lerman and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. All errors remain the sole responsibility of the authors.

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Correspondence to David C. Ribar.

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Responsible editor: Christian Dustmann



Table 5 Descriptive statistics for variables in wage sample
Table 6 Full sample selection controlled probits on wage reporting
Table 7 Full sample log wage regression results

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Kalenkoski, C.M., Ribar, D.C. & Stratton, L.S. The influence of wages on parents’ allocations of time to child care and market work in the United Kingdom. J Popul Econ 22, 399–419 (2009).

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  • Time use
  • Child care
  • Wages

JEL Codes

  • J1
  • J2