IZA DP No. 1787: The Division of Labor by New Parents: Does Child Gender Matter?
This paper documents some distinct and surprising patterns of specialization among new parents in the NLSY79. Child gender has significant effects on the labor supply of both mothers and father, and these effects are opposite at the two ends of the education spectrum – boys reduce specialization among the college-educated and increase specialization among parents with less than a high school education. Estimates from the recent American Time Use Survey are generally consistent with the NLSY79 findings, and indicate that highly-educated parents devote more childcare time to young sons. The labor supply results are inconsistent with previous research that found boys substantially increase the work hours of their fathers relative to girls but have no effect on mother’s work hours. Possible explanations for the heterogeneous responses to sons and daughters across education groups include a bias towards same-sex parental inputs as desired child quality increases and child gender effects on the relative bargaining power of the mother and father. No evidence of improved maternal bargaining power can be found in the leisure consumption of mothers of young sons in the ATUS, but patterns in parental childcare time suggest gender differences in child production functions.