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The Time Cost of Raising Children in Different Fertility Contexts: Evidence from France and Italy

Ariane Pailhé (), Anne Solaz () and Maria Letizia Tanturri ()
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Maria Letizia Tanturri: University of Padova

European Journal of Population, 2019, vol. 35, issue 2, No 1, 223-261

Abstract: Abstract This article provides an original comparison of the time cost of children for the parental couple and for each parent in two European countries—France and Italy—that differ in terms of structural and normative constraints. Using time-use surveys carried out in 2008–2009 in Italy and in 2009–2010 in France, it investigates how Italian and French couples’ time use varies quantitatively according to the number and the age of their children. We estimate both the direct and indirect time cost of children and take into account the compression of the parents’ free time. After controlling for numerous covariates, the results corroborate the hypothesis that Italian children have a higher direct cost for couples (especially those with a large family or with preschool children), but also for mothers and fathers separately. Faced with this huge burden of childcare time, Italian women adjust by substituting housework with childcare. The presence of children reduces parents’ free time in both countries, but large families in Italy experience a higher and persistent loss of free time than in France. The gender imbalance in childcare is similar in both countries, but a more pronounced gender gap in time dedicated to domestic work is observed in Italy than in France. The loss of free time is always greater for women than for men in both countries, but in France, women’s free time is only partially affected by the number of children, contrary to Italy.

Keywords: Cost of children; Time use; Childcare; Paid and unpaid work; Leisure time; Gender (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s10680-018-9470-8

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Handle: RePEc:spr:eurpop:v:35:y:2019:i:2:d:10.1007_s10680-018-9470-8