Journal of Population Research

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 229–247 | Cite as

Dual-earner parents’ work-family time: the effects of atypical work patterns and non-parental childcare

  • Lyn CraigEmail author
  • Abigail Powell


Finding time to both earn money and raise children is demanding. Within the constraints and opportunities of their employment and social policies affecting work and family, parents seeking to manage their time may use a number of strategies. For example, they can outsource childcare or adopt atypical work patterns: non-standard work schedules, self employment, working from home. In this paper we compare the effects of these measures on the household time use and gender division of labour of dual-earner couples with children, using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Time Use Survey, 2006 (n = 772 couples). We find that these strategies do help households manage their work and family time. However, this is almost exclusively a result of women changing their time use. Such measures generally enable mothers, not fathers, to adjust paid work around family commitments, and offer little amelioration of gendered divisions of labour. This reinforces normative gender-role expectations and is probably a result of institutional constraints, including sparse social policy and workplace support for mothers’ full-time employment and for fathers’ involvement in childcare.


Work-family balance Gender division of labour Childcare Non-standard work schedules Self-employment Work from home Non-parental childcare 


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© Springer Science & Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Policy Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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