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Sharing of childcare and wellbeing outcomes: an empirical analysis

Walthery, Pierre, Chung, Heejung (2021) Sharing of childcare and wellbeing outcomes: an empirical analysis. UK Cabinet Office, 43 pp. (KAR id:85872)

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Abstract

Executive Summary

-Care conducted as either a primary (main activity) or secondary activity (alongside another primary activity such as paid work)

-Routine (i.e. feeding, cleaning, transporting) vs enriched (i.e. playing, reading, studying with child) care

-Women are more likely to provide care during any given day and spend more time providing care compared to men. A large proportion of fathers, on the other hand, did not report any care-giving. Even among those who do report care giving in their time-diary, men only spend about half as much time in providing care compared to women. This gap is much larger when we take into account those who do not report providing any care.

-This gender gap is especially noticeable during the week day, for caring alone, and routine care. In other words, when men take part in care, it is mostly done jointly with their partners, during the weekend, providing enrichment care.

-Mothers’ employment patterns – i.e. full time vs. part-time, did not matter much in the amount of care provided as a primary activity. However, part-time working mothers spent more time providing care as a secondary activity or being with children whilst doing other activities (co-presence).

We analyse the association between the absolute and relative share of care carried out by parents and seven distinct well-being instruments, namely, anxiety, overall life satisfaction, work-life balance satisfaction, satisfaction with leisure, satisfaction with social life, relationship satisfaction, and finally overall daily enjoyment. The final instrument, enjoyment, represents an innovation over traditional well-being instruments as it is based on episode-level records reported in a 24h time diary instead of an overall evaluation by respondent of a given aspect of their life.

We found clear evidence that an increased share of childcare provided by fathers is significantly associated with a number of positive well-being outcomes, primarily for mothers, but also for fathers themselves. Some evidence was also found of a positive effect of the time spent with their parents on well-being of children aged 8 to 14.

-Mothers in households where fathers take on a significant share of enriched care tend to report greater satisfaction with their work-life balance, and lower levels of anxiety than in those in which they are not involved. This is also true of households where a greater share of the childcare is jointly done by both parents. At the same time however, mothers tend to report feeling more anxious where fathers take on more than 40% of the routine childcare.

-For children aged 8-14: no significant association was found between their daily enjoyment and the time spent with either their mother, their father, or both parents jointly. There are indications that when mothers reported having a rushed day, the enjoyment levels of children were lower.

-The association with father’s involvement in childcare and well-being outcomes are unlikely to have a linear relationship. Rather, being involved in primary childcare (compared to not being involved) mattered in enhancing fathers’ overall enjoyment.

These results of the analysis reinforce the body of evidence showing that fathers’ involvement in childcare and a more equal division of care between mothers and fathers can potentially increase well-being outcomes for parents. The report also provides some reflections on the changes expected due to COVID-19 in terms of future parenting patterns.

Item Type: Research report (external)
Uncontrolled keywords: childcare
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ767.9 Children. Child developement
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Heejung Chung
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2021 09:59 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:17 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/85872 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Walthery, Pierre: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7297-1795
Chung, Heejung: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6422-6119
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