Differences in the total time that parents spend with their children by socioeconomic status (SES) are well documented. However, the qualitative aspects of such gaps are potentially important, yet relatively understudied. The current study analyzes time-use data for a nationally representative sample of married households with at least two children, one of whom is under 13 (N = 21,016), from the American Time Use Survey to provide a more nuanced analysis of previously documented differences in the time parents spend with children by SES. Specifically, two understudied aspects of family time are considered, both of which are distinct from other types of parent–child time and are potentially particularly developmentally beneficial: shared time when both parents are present with a child and individual child time when no siblings are present. We find that shared time when both parents are simultaneously present with a child often comprises a substantial portion of the total gap in parental time spent with children between college-educated parents and parents who did not complete high school. Similarly, college-educated parents spend more time with children in the absence of the child’s siblings than do less-educated parents. Gaps in this time classification are often found within enriching time, which is likely especially developmentally beneficial, potentially amplifying the effects of these gaps on child development. Generally, these results suggest that gaps in parental time with children by SES are more nuanced than previous research has recognized.
Social Indicators Research – Springer Journals
Published: May 28, 2016
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