Parents’ work schedules and children’s time use: the Spanish case

Pablo Gracia, European University Institute
Joan Garcia Roman, University of Minnesota

This study analyzes how parents’ work schedules influence children’s time use. Studying children’s time use, and whether parents supervise this time, is critical to understand child wellbeing (Bianchi & Robinson, 1997). Although previous studies typically found that children with parents working outside standard hours are disadvantaged in cognitive and socio-emotional skills (Li et al., 2014), scholars provided little evidence on the exact mechanisms through which nonstandard work hours influence child wellbeing. By analyzing the links between parental work schedules and children’s time use, we seek to better understand the relationship between parental work schedules and child well-being. Spain represents an excellent case for our study. In Spain, many parents have a split-shift schedule, based on a long lunch break that divides the workday between mornings and evenings, bringing many parents to work until late in the evening. The split-shift schedule was found to have negative effects on parent’s family activities and time with children (Gracia & Kalmijn, 2016). But the split-shift schedule might also arguably reduce parents’ capacities to supervise their children’s activities, affecting how children participate in more or less developmental activities (i.e., doing homework versus watching television). We use the Spanish Time Use Survey (2009-2010) for a sample of children aged 10-15 in two-parent families (N = 669). These data contain, apart from rich information on children’s time use allocation and parents’ supervision of their activities, detailed information on the work schedules of both mothers and fathers. Preliminary multivariate statistical analyses show that parents’ evening work, and especially mothers’ evening work, are negatively associated with children’s time supervised by parents and children’s time on homework, and positively associated with their time watching television and engaging in electronic activities. In future steps we will also study how parents’ paid work affects children’s time use during weekends.

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Presented in Poster Session 2