Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2017, 11-13 July 2017, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
July 13, 2017
Two-earner households increasingly constitute the norm in most western societies, requiring families to find a strategy to combine two careers, household tasks, and parental duties. This research analyses to what extent different work hour arrangements affect the amount of quality time parents spend with their children and whether the effects vary between low and higher income households. It focuses particularly on the effects of parents’ long working hours on their available time to spend with children on certain activities (structured leisure time, family dinners, and talking about important matters). The statistical analysis is based on Waves 1, 3 and 5 of the UK Household Longitudinal Study using Ordered Random Effects Models. I find that mothers who work more than 30 hours and fathers who work more than 48 hours per week spend less structured leisure time with their children than parents with shorter workweeks, but only in households where both parents are employed. Interestingly, the negative effects of long working hours are only found for parents with a lower income. Fathers often eat less regularly with the family when they work longer hours, while mothers’ employment arrangements do not affect their participation at family dinners. Furthermore, the frequency of talking about important matters seems to be unaffected by parents’ work demands.