Family Flexibility in Response to Economic Shocks: Fathers’ Involvement in Child Care Tasks

Karin Brewster, Florida State University
Brian Knop, Florida State University

Prior research indicates that, although most parents believe that fathers and mothers should be equally involved in daily child care, including physical care, play, discipline, and supervision, fathers still spend less time on these tasks than mothers and mothers continue to do most of the “dirty labor” required by their infants and preschoolers. Casper and O’Connell (1998) reported that fathers’ involvement in child care during their wives’ work hours increased during economic recessions. In this paper, we use data from the National Survey of Family Growth, fielded from 2006 to 2010, to explore the effects of the 2007 – 2009 economic recession on fathers’ involvement in the day-to-day tasks of physical (e.g., bathing) and interactive (e.g., reading) care. Results reveal that fathers’ participation in these tasks, net of employment, increased in 2009 and 2010, suggesting a lag between the recession’s onset and its impact on families’ division of child-related labor.

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Presented in Session 184: Determinants of Domestic Gender Equality