The Growing Educational Gradient in Parental Child Care Time: Mothers and Fathers in 12 Western Countries

Giulia Dotti Sani, Collegio Carlo Alberto
Judith Treas, University of California, Irvine

Parental time devoted to childcare has increased over time. The results for men are mixed, but research shows a positive educational gradient in childcare for mothers: Well-educated women spend more time on children than their less educated counterparts. Given changing cultural expectations for parenting and gender equality, this paper asks whether there has been an increase in the educational gradient in child care for men and women. Covering 12 Western countries between 1965 and 2010, Multinational Time Use Study (MTUS) data confirm that mothers’ educational gradient in child care has increased over time. Although the educational gradient for fathers was initially negative, child care time for well-educated fathers increased more rapidly than for less-educated fathers, leading to a positive and growing educational gradient in time with children. Because children benefit in numerous ways from parental time, these developments point to a further advantage for children with highly educated parents.

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Presented in Session 12: Gender and Time Spent in Child Care