Family Dynamics of Child Care in Korea: Strategies to Relieving the Gap Between Mother’s Actual and Preferred Hours of Care

Abstract

This study examines the dynamics of family management for child care in Korea by measuring the gap between a mother’s actual and preferred hours of care. We assumed that there was a significant discrepancy between actual hours and preferred hours spent caring for young children. This gap, a deviation from preferred amount of care hours, may contribute to a mother’s psychological stress or emotional frustration, and it is therefore crucial to be able to manage time or financial resources in order to reduce the discrepancy. The study employed data of Korean mothers who are the primary caregivers to their young children (age 0–9) from the 2018 Family Survey for Child Care (n = 484). Preliminary analyses revealed that mothers tended to spend more hours than they would choose to, on child care. The study finds that the working mothers were not very different from non-working mothers in experiencing the gap in care time. We found that the elderly parents’ time and resources could play a significant role in decreasing it. This study also showed that income-related factors, household income, mother’s income contribution, and mother’s autonomy for income management were the most crucial factors in reducing the gap between actual amount of care time and preferred amount of care time.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Remaining children who are not enrolled in the ECEC program are cared by family members (e.g. for child’s health or family wants of take care of child at home). Since the “Free Child Care” policy has launched, government has been providing a care allowance to the family member whose child does not attend/receive the care facilities service.

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Acknowledgements

The initial version of this paper was presented in a workshop at the University of Oxford on January 9th, 2020. The authors appreciate the discussant and participants in that workshop for their valuable comments.

Funding

This work was part of Care Work and the Economy Project and it was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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Correspondence to Seung-Eun Cha.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article used 2018 Family Survey data for Child Care. This survey data was was approved by Seoul National University IRB at June 2018 (IRB code: SNU 1804/003–002).

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Cha, SE., Eun, KS. Family Dynamics of Child Care in Korea: Strategies to Relieving the Gap Between Mother’s Actual and Preferred Hours of Care. Population Ageing (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12062-020-09321-3

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Keywords

  • Actual amount of actual child care time
  • Preferred amount of care time
  • Father’s contribution
  • Grandparent’s support
  • Unmet needs
  • Negotiated obligation