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Shift Work and Child Care among Young Dual-Earner American Parents

Harriet B. Presser
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Feb., 1988), pp. 133-148
DOI: 10.2307/352434
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352434
Page Count: 16
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Shift Work and Child Care among Young Dual-Earner American Parents
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Abstract

This study uncovers a high rate of non-day employment among young dual-earner American parents and examines the relationship between shift status (fixed day, fixed non-day, and rotating) and child care. Special attention is given to parental child care when the spouse is employed. The study is based on the 1984 wave of the National Longitudinal Survey of Labor Market Experience, Youth Cohort. This cohort was age 19 to 26 in 1984. A subset of married parents with employed spouses and with children under 5 years old was selected for analysis. Reliance on spouses for child care when dual-earner couples are employed is much higher when respondents work non-days rather than days. This is particularly evident when both primary and secondary child-care arrangements are considered and when the extent of nonoverlapping work hours is taken into account. Although mothers participate more in child care when fathers are employed than vice versa, father care is substantial. Gender differences in the determinants of parental care are discussed. We raise the issue of whether shift work is a solution to the child-care problem, and discuss the critical void in our understanding of work and family life among young dual-earner parents that exists because we neglect to consider the hours parents work.

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