June 2016

IZA DP No. 10023: Intensive Mothering and Well-being: The Role of Education and Child Care Activity

We use data from the 2012 and 2013 Well-being Module of the American Time Use Survey to understand maternal momentary well-being, and how these vary by educational attainment. We document that even after controlling for a wide set of maternal characteristics, higher educated mothers report lower levels of happiness and meaning, and higher levels of fatigue when engaging in child-related activities than mothers with lower educational attainment. Further analysis reveals that there is no education gap in momentary well-being among fathers and non-mothers. These findings are consistent with more educated mothers feeling the pressures from the ideology of intensive mothering, whereby mother’s continuous time and attention is understood as being crucial for child development.