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A Research Note on Time With Children in Different- and Same-Sex Two-Parent Families


Public debate on same-sex marriage often focuses on the disadvantages that children raised by same-sex couples may face. On one hand, little evidence suggests any difference in the outcomes of children raised by same-sex parents and different-sex parents. On the other hand, most studies are limited by problems of sample selection and size, and few directly measure the parenting practices thought to influence child development. This research note demonstrates how the 2003–2013 American Time Use Survey (n = 44,188) may help to address these limitations. Two-tier Cragg’s Tobit alternative models estimated the amount of time that parents in different-sex and same-sex couples engaged in child-focused time. Women in same-sex couples were more likely than either women or men in different-sex couples to spend such time with children. Overall, women (regardless of the gender of their partners) and men coupled with other men spent significantly more time with children than men coupled with women, conditional on spending any child-focused time. These results support prior research that different-sex couples do not invest in children at appreciably different levels than same-sex couples. We highlight the potential for existing nationally representative data sets to provide preliminary insights into the developmental experiences of children in nontraditional families.

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This research was supported by Grant 5 R24 HD042849, Population Research Center, and Grant 5 T32 HD007081, Training Program in Population Studies, awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

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Correspondence to Kate C. Prickett.



Table 3 List of ATUS activity codes indicating time engaged with children
Table 4 Sample description
Table 5 Cragg Tobit alternative (two-tier) models: Time engaged with children in two-parent families

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Prickett, K.C., Martin-Storey, A. & Crosnoe, R. A Research Note on Time With Children in Different- and Same-Sex Two-Parent Families. Demography 52, 905–918 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-015-0385-2

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  • Parenting
  • Family structure
  • LGBT
  • Time use
  • Gender