The Great Recession may have had both subtle and profound effects on the organization and patterns of family life in the United States. Unemployment and the loss of family income or wealth can lead to changes in preferences and priorities for families. Previous research has found these disruptions vary by class, the level of unemployment and the gender of the parent. For example, studies have shown that fathers’ job loss has negative implications for family life and child development, but mothers’ job loss does not. Mothers tend to use free time in childcare and household production, while fathers are more likely to spend it on personal care and leisure.
These changes in family patterns, especially parental time use, are likely to lead to long-term consequences for child development and family well-being. With the support of the Foundation, Ariel Kalil of National Opinion Research Center will study how parental time use changed across the pre-recession, recession and recovery periods for mothers and fathers, and whether the gaps between mothers’ and fathers’ time spent on household and childcare activities changed over these periods. Using data from the 2003-2011 panels of the American Time Use Survey, Kalil will also examine whether these effects vary by parental education, age of children, or type of activity. Findings will be presented at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Population Association of America meetings, and in two manuscripts.