• Household Composition and Gender Differences in Parental Time Investments

      Bibler, Andrew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-04-04)
      Recent research documents a female advantage in several important long-term outcomes among children raised in single-parent households, and highlights the importance of non-cognitive skills for explaining these gaps. Understanding the source of differences in non-cognitive skills is complicated due to the presence of many interrelated and often unobservable inputs. One potential explanation for such gaps is that boys and girls receive different levels of inputs in single-parent versus two-parent households. This paper provides empirical evidence that input levels change differentially by gender across household structures and hence may facilitate gender gaps in noncognitive skills. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and accompanying Child Development Supplement, I estimate gender differences in parental time investments, defined as the amount of time parents spend participating in activities with the child, around changes in household composition. I find that, although both boys and girls experience reductions in parental time investments following a change from a two-parent to single-mother household, boys experience a larger reduction than girls. The largest difference is found in fathers’ time investments on weekdays, for which boys lose an additional 24 minutes per day (35% of average paternal weekday investments). Moreover, there is little to no evidence that single mothers compensate for the loss by increasing time investments to boys relative to girls.