Research / BFI Working PaperSep 17, 2020

The Education Gradient in Maternal Enjoyment of Time in Childcare

Ariel Kalil, Susan Mayer, William Delgado, Lisa A. Gennetian

Studies document large differences in the amount of time mothers spend in childcare by maternal education, even when controlling for characteristics such as income, employment hours, and work schedules. One possible explanation for this observed difference is that highly educated mothers find time in childcare to be more enjoyable. To inform this hypothesis, we examine education-based differences in mothers’ average feelings during their time in childcare using pooled data from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 Well-being Modules of the American Time Use Survey. Among all mothers, spending time in childcare is associated with higher positive feelings than is spending time in other activities. However, highly educated mothers do not enjoy their time in childcare more than less-educated mothers. Findings are robust to controls for mother fixed effects.

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