Conference Paper Time-Use and Economic Well-Being Conference
Examining the Dynamics of Childcare Using the American Time Use Survey and the American Historical Time Use Study
29 Oct 2005
Time diaries collect robust information about non-market work (Gershuny 2000). Nevertheless, diaries have not proved ideal for capturing the full range of childcare activities.
Parents and grandparents tend to record a significant element of childcare as simultaneous activity occurring alongside something else rather than as the main focus of their attention. This pattern distinguishes childcare from other unpaid work activities, which most often are recorded as the main activity (Gershuny 2000). Further, a proportion of care for younger children does not surface plainly in diary data, as the party responsible for children are not always evident when care activities are not recorded (Bittman and Folbre 2004). Some previous time use studies have dealt with the challenge of capturing childcare time by collecting information on the movements of all household members during the diary day, asking diarists to note who else was with them at any given time, and asking diarists to note for whom they performed an activity when they undertook an unpaid task for someone else.
The ATUS does not include simultaneous activities. Nevertheless, interviewers asked participants who had been responsible for children aged