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What Money Buys and Family Costs: Three Papers on the Work-Family Intersection

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Alexandra Achen Killewald

Family responsibilities and market work have the potential to influence one another. First, the financial rewards received from the labor market may provide individuals with resources that they can use to manage their family responsibilities. In the first two empirical chapters, I examine the relationship between wives’ earnings and their time in housework, testing whether, to what extent, and how wives’ earnings allow them to reduce their household labor burden. In Chapter 2, “Money Isn’t Everything: Wives' Earnings and Housework Time”, I use fixed-effects models and data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and find that wives reduce housework time as their earnings rise, although the effect is highly non-linear, with high-earning women achieving little additional reduction in housework. Thus, high-income women continue to spend considerable time in housework, despite their substantial financial resources. Chapter 3, “Opting Out and Buying Out: Wives’ Earnings and Housework Time”, uses data from the Consumption Activities Mail Survey of the Health and Retirement Study to test whether expenditures on market substitutes for household labor explain the negative relationship between women’s earnings and their housework time. Expenditures on market substitutes explain less than 15% of the relationship between women’s earnings and their housework time. This suggests that women’s earnings may allow them to “opt out” as well as “buy out” of some housework, foregoing this labor without purchasing a substitute.
Additionally, family responsibilities may affect individuals’ work lives. For men, becoming fathers may lead to increased investment in wage-earning, as men are motivated to provide financially for their children. Chapter 4, “A Reconsideration of the Fatherhood Wage Premium”, hypothesizes that lower commitment to the fatherhood role and greater role ambiguity will lead to a smaller wage premium for nonresidential fathers and stepfathers as compared to residential fathers. Using panel models and data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, I find that married, residential fatherhood is associated with wage gains, while nonresidential fatherhood and stepfatherhood are associated with wage losses compared to childless men of the same union status, and unmarried, residential fatherhood leads to no wage changes for men.

Funding Period: 11/01/2010 to 12/31/2011

Country of Focus: USA

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