Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 905–924 | Cite as

The effect of macroeconomic conditions on parental time with children: evidence from the American time use survey

  • Patrick Bauer
  • Lyudmyla SonchakEmail author


This paper investigates the effect of changes in macroeconomic conditions on time allocation to children among mothers and fathers in the US. The study relies on 2003–2013 American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data. Accounting for a variety of personal demographic characteristics, as well as state and year fixed effects, we find that an increase in state-level unemployment rates is associated with an increase in enriching child–father time in families with small children (ages 0–4). However, there is heterogeneity in results by race, education and marital status, with results being statistically significant for white, married and college-educated fathers. Additionally, we find some evidence that an increase in unemployment rates is also associated with an increase in primary childcare for fathers in families with small children, as well as some declines in total time that fathers spend with older children. In contrast to this result, we find that mothers’ total time with children, as well as primary childcare time, is invariant to macroeconomic fluctuations in the labor market, however, as the unemployment rate goes up we do observe small declines in enriching time that white mothers in families with small children devote to enriching activities.


Time allocation parental time-use unemployment childcare 

JEL Classification

J22 D13 J13 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsSUNY OswegoOswegoUSA

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