Child Daily Routines
University of Frankfurt
Trinity College Dublin
How children use their time is critical for their health, emotional, and cognitive development. Studies typicallyfind that parental divorce lowers childdevelopment, due to adeclinein parents’monetaryand timeresources. Yet, little is known on how parental separationaffectschild time use. This study fills this relevantknowledgegapby using prospective time-diary data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), a unique survey followingchildren’s time use acrosssix waves (N = 14,862 observations from 3,719 children).Results from both random and fixed effects models provide four main findings:(i) mother-child time increases dramaticallyafter parental separation, at the expense of children’stime with twoparents, whilefather-child time stays low both before and afterparental separation; (ii) after parental separation, children slightly decrease their time in educational activitiesandincreasesubstantially their time in unstructured activities; (iii) boys’developmental timeuseis harmedby parental separationto a higher degree thangirls’; and (iv) parentsinhigh socio-economic backgrounds tend to compensate more effectively for the potential negative consequences of divorce by investing more time in children, comparedto parentsin unprivileged social backgrounds. Our findings have important implications for family policy. Results point tothe need ofspreadingjoint custody to improve gender equality in parental childcaretime after divorce, as well as promoting greater support for boys and disadvantagedfamilies in dealing with the adverseeffectsof parental union dissolutionon children’s daily routines, development,and lifechances.
Divorce, time-use, life course, gender, social stratification, child development
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