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Trends in Work, Famil-y, and Child Care The experience of growing up in the United States is likely to be different for children in the late 1980s and the 1990s than it was for children several decades ago. Although a significant proportion still live in a traditional two-parent family (including both natural and stepparent families) in which the father is the wage earner and the mother is the homemaker, most do not. Since 1970, significant social, demographic, and economic changes have altered the form and the function of many American families, with consequent effects on the daily experiences of children. More children than at any time since the Great Depression live in families with only one parent, usually their mothers. More children than ever before live in families in which their mothers, as well as their fathers, work outside the home. Children are more likely than any other age group in the United States to be living in poverty, and if they live in a single-parent family in which the mother is unemployed, they are almost certain to be poor. Moreover, today more children than ever before spend time in the care of adults other than their parents. These dramatic trends have been the subject of popular media atten- tion and scholarly inquiry, and they have significant implications for child care issues. Recent shifts in labor force participation particularly among women with children in family structure, in family income, and in the settings in which children are cared for and reared are clearly related, but there is little definitive evidence of causal links (Kamerman and Hayes, 1982~. Undoubtedly, a complex variety of social, economic, cultural, and ideological factors contributed to these changes in American families, and they are not easily disentangled. Our purpose in describing these trends in not to imply direct cause-and-effect relationships, but instead to identify 16
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY; AND CHILD CARE < 1 year old 2 years old 3 years old LL a: 4 years old 5 years old 6-13 years old 17 . . . ~ ~ .~. ~. ~, ~' \\\\\\\\\\\\ 1 . ~. :.:. ::: .] 6\\\\':\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\51 ........... ... . , - ] \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\] ,, ~-. 1 ~ 1 978 _, 1983 ~ 1 988 0 20 40 60 80 100 PERCENT FIGURE 2-1 Labor Force Participation Rates of Mothers By Age of Youngest Child, 1978-1988. Source: Data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, News, September 7, 1988. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. significant associated patterns of change in U.S. society that have created the current context for child care policy. IABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION The past decade and a half have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the labor force participation of mothers with young children. Between 1970 and 1988 the proportion of women with children under age 6 who were in the work force rose from 30 to 56 percent. Today approximately 10.5 million children under age 6, including 6.6 million infants and toddlers under age 3, have working mothers (see Figure 2-1~. In 1987, for the first time, more than one-half of all mothers with babies 1 year old or younger (approximately 1.9 million) were working or looking for work (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1988~. Women with school-age children are even more likely to be working or looking for work outside their homes. In 1988, more
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18 All Children Not in labor force In labor force C Mother not present WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? Children Under 6 With Married Mothers Children Under 6 With Single Mothers ~....; ~7, t47.9~ Children Aged Children Aged 6-13 With Married 6-13 With Single Mothers Mothers ~:64~3~' 64.8 ~ FIGURE 2-2 Children Under Age 13 by Mothem' Labor Force Participation and Mantal Status, 1988. Source: Unpublished data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Marital and Family Characteristics of the Labor Force: March 1988. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. than 72 percent of those whose youngest child was between the ages of 6 and 13 were in the labor force. Approximately 16 million children, or more than 60 percent of all children in this age group, had working mothers (see Figure 2-2), and the numbers are expected to rise in the l990s (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1988~. The most dramatic change in labor force participation has been among mothers in two-parent families: between 1970 and 1987 this proportion jumped from 39 percent to 61 percent. Indeed, just since 1980 the labor force participation rate for married mothers has increased by 13 percentage points. Although in another era many of these women would have left the labor force when they married or had children, they are now continuing to work. Those with school-age children are more likely to be employed than those with preschool-age children; however, the rate of increase in labor force participation of women has been greatest among those with very young children, an astounding 25 percent increase since 1980. Idday, nearly 55 percent of married mothers with children under age 4 are in the work force (see Figure 2-3~. Mothers who delay childbearing until after age 25 and those with 4 or more years of college education are more likely to be in the labor force than are younger mothers and those with less than 12 years of schooling (Bureau of the Census, 1988a).
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY ED CH LD Cat 100 90 80 70 60 z O 50 IL 40 30 20 10 o Children with single mothers A -., [:.:.:.:.:.:.:1 Children with married mothers < 1 Year Old 2 Years Old 19 3 Years Old AGE FIGURE 2-3 Children Under Age 4 Filth Working Mathers, by Child's Age and Mother's Mantal Status, 1988. Source: Unpublished data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mantal and Family Characteristics of the Labor Force: March 1988. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. Although there has been a notable decline in family size generally, the number of children in a family is closely linked to the extent to which mothers work. Among families with only one child, about three-quarters of the mothers in single- and two-parent families were employed in 1987. By contrast, less than one-half of mothers with four children, regardless of marital status, and only one-quarter of single mothers with five or more children were working outside their homes (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1988~. The causal relationship between family size and mothers' labor force participation is complex and difficult to sort out. Historically, low-income and unmarried mothers have had higher la- bor force participation rates than other women (Grossman, 1978, 1983~. Because these women constitute a greater proportion of black than white mothers, black women traditionally have been more likely to be working or looking for work outside their homes than white women. Although
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20 WHO CARES FOR ~E~CA'S CHILDREN? / the past 15 years have seen a rise In the labor force participation of low- ~ncome and unmarried women, the most dramatic increase has been among middle~lass married mothers, especially those with young children. As a result, the proportion of black children and white children under 6 with working mothers was approximately equal in the late 1980s (see Figure 2-4~. If the current trend continues, the proportion of white children with working mothers is likely to exceed that of black children by the mid-199Os (Hofferth and Phillips, 1987~. Among single-parent families, white mothers are far more likely than black or Hispanic mothers to be in the labor force and to :be employed. For women who are single parents who are in the labor force, unemployment is particularly high among black women with preschool-age children: at 26.8 percent in 1988, their jobless rate was over twice as high as that of white mothers with preschoolers and more than three times that of Hispanic mothers with very young children (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1988~. coo 90 70 40 20 10 1 O 1 1975 1 978 i Black - White Hispanic 1981 1 984 YEAR 1 988 FIGURE 24 Children Under Age 6 With Mothers in the Labor Force, by Race or Ethnicity, 1975-19~. Source: Unpublished data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Marital and Family Characteristics of the Labor Force: March 1975, March 1978, March 1981, March 1984, and March 1988. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY ED CHIN Cat 100 80 ~ 60 CO CC fL 40 20 o ~ Married , _ If; ,... ~ .. :.:-:.:.:-.:.: :-:-:-:-:-.-: ·:-:-:-:-:-: :-:-:-:-:-:-: :.:-:-:-:-:.: ·:-:-:-:-:- :-:-:-:-:-: ·:-:-:-:-:-: ·:-:-:-:-: :-.-:.:.:.:- :-:-:-:-:-- .~ :- ·:-:-:-:-:-: ............ :-:-:-:-.-: ·:-:-:-:-:-: ............ :-:-:-:-:-: ·:-:-:-:-:-: :-:-:-:-:-: ·:-:-:-:-:-: ............ :-:-:-:-:-- :.:.:.:.:-: , ...... Under 3 3-5 6-13 AGE (in years) 21 FIGURE 2-5 Full-Time Work of Employed Mothers, lay Mantal Status and Age of Child, 1988. Source: Unpublished data Tom Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mantal and Family Characteristics of the Labor Force: March 1988. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. Of the total number of employed mothers with children under age 13 (about 16 million) in 1988, approximately 72 percent worked full time. A greater proportion of working mothers who are single parents than of mothers with husbands present were employed full time. In addition, women with school-age children were somewhat more likely to work full time than women with preschoolers. As indicated in Figure 2-5, it appears that marital status rather than the age of the child determines whether a mother who is employed works full or part time. Although women's labor force participation in the United States has increased in almost every decade since 1890, the dramatic increase in the number of mothers working outside the home during the past decade rep- resents a fundamental change in the day-to-day life of many American women. It is attributable in part to the baby-boom generation coming of age and in part to the dramatic increase during the 1960s and the 1970s in the proportion of women who chose (or were obliged) to seek paid work (Kamerman and Hayes, 1982; Reskin and HartInann, 1986~. This change is undoubtedly linked to broader changing social, cultural, ideological, and economic conditions in the United States. The economic growth of the
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22 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? 1960s and the mid-1980s, increases in the number of available jobs, grow- ing legal pressures to assure women equal access to the workplace, the resurgence of the feminist movement, and the availability of effective con- traception have all removed barriers to women entering the job market and remaining in it. Such factors as the declining income and job opportunities of young men (especially for those who lack skills) (Wilson, 1987) and the mechanization of the household are also undoubtedly relevant (O'Neill, 1980~. Regardless of their motivation to go to work, however, mothers' employment has been accompanied by changes in family structure, and mothers' earnings have brought about changes in patterns of family income (Kamerman and Hayes, 1982~. FAMILY STRUCTURE Between the Great Depression and 1970, approximately 90 percent of American children lived in families with both parents present. In 1987 only about 75 percent of children ages 6 to 17 and 81 percent of children under age 6 lived in two-parent families. Although the proportion of children living with neither parent has remained relatively stable throughout the twentieth century at 3 to 5 percent, the proportion living with only one parent has increased dramatically since 1970 (Bureau of the Census, 1988b; see also Figure 2-6~. Most of these children live in families maintained by mothers; less than 3 percent live only with their fathers. While most white and Hispanic children live with two parents, more than one-half of all black children do not. Despite differences in the prevalence of children living with only one parent, rates of growth in the formation of mother-only families have been similar for whites, blacks, and Hispanics. During the 1960s and 1970s, the number of children living only with their mothers rose between 35 and 40 percent per decade for all groups (Garfinkel and McLanahan, 1986~. The increasing number of children in single-parent families reflects a rapidly rising divorce rate among adult mothers and a rising rate of child- bearing among unmarried women, particularly among adolescents (Hayes, 1987; Kamerman and Hayes, 1982~. Approximately one-half of all mar- riages in the United States now end in divorce, and approximately 40 percent of all white babies and almost 90 percent of all black babies of teenage mothers are born to unmarried women. Even when adolescent marriages occur, they are characterized by instability, and the children of teenage mothers can be expected to spend a substantial period of their early life in a single-parent family (Hayes, 1987~. Perhaps the most striking feature of the growth of mother-only families over the past generation has been the difference between blacks and whites: for whites, the increase was
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY; AND CHILD CARE 100 70 90 80 60 of (A 50 IIJ 40 30 20 - - - - - 10 O 1971 - - Black Hispanic 1 1 1 White 1 976 23 1 982 YEAR 1 987 FIGURE 2-6 Children Under 18 Living With Only One Parent, by Race or Ethnicity, 1971-1987. Source: Data from Bureau of the Census, Mantal Status and LivingArrangements, Current Population Reports, Series P-20: 1971, No. 225; 1976, No. 306; 1982, No. 380; 1987, No. 423. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. due primarily to marital dissolution; for blacks, the increase was due pri- marily to unmarried childbearing (Garfinkel and McLanahan, 1986~. The combined result of these trends is that more than one-half of all white chil- dren and three-quarters of all black children born in the 1970s and 1980s are expected to live for some portion of their formative years with only one of their parents (Bureau of the Census, 1979; Cherlin, 1981; Hofferth, 1985~. Rising rates of single parenthood, like rising rates of mothers' labor force participation, are part and parcel of a series of complex social and economic trends in the United States during the past generation. The growth of the feminist movement, emerging educational and career oppor- tunities for women, the rising age of marriage, the declining employment of young men, and declining standards of living for one-income families have all undoubtedly contributed. Changes in family structure, coupled with changes in mothers' employment, have significant implications for the economic well-being of American families and for the care and rearing of children.
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24 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? FAMILY INCOME The social and economic environment in which children are reared substantially influences their health and well-being, as well as their edu- cation, later employment, and family formation. The economic status of children usually reflects the economic status of their parents. Those who live in mother-only families and those who are black or Hispanic dispropor- tionately live in families whose incomes are below the U.S. median family income and often below the poverty level. The period since 1970 has been characterized by erratic changes in patterns of family income (Levy, 1987~: real median income increased in the early 1970s, declined in the recessionary period from 1973 to 1975, and then rose in alternate years during the second half of the decade. Recession in the 1980-1982 period caused another more significant decline that has been balanced by growth during the economic recovery of the mid- 1980s. The result of these ups and downs is that median family income for families with children in the United States- $30,721 in 198~was less than 7 percent higher than the 1970 level after adjusting for inflation (Bureau of the Census, 1988c). Throughout the decade of the 1970s, the average annual growth rate for family income was virtually zero; since 1980, the average annual growth rate has been only 0.8 percent per year. In companson, the average annual growth rate was between 3.0 and 3.3 percent during the 1950s and 1960s. Even though more U.S. families have two earners, family income has remained fairly level. In addition to the slow economic growth of the past decade and a half, the increase in the number and proportion of mother-only families exerted a downward influence on overall median family income, as shown in Figure 2-7 (Bureau of the Census, 1987a). Significantly, however, although median income stagnated during the 1970s and increased only modestly during the early and mid-1980s, average family size also fell, creating a rise in per capita income levels within families. These income trends have significant implications for the economic well-being of children. Many economists argue that, on average, U.S. children were better off in the 1980s than they were in the 1960s, primarily because of rising family incomes prior to 1973 and the smaller number of children in most American families (Easterlin, 1987; Haveman et al., 1988~. A variety of economic measures including children's mean and median per capita income, financial wealth, fungible wealth, and assets that yield access to services support this conclusion (Haveman et al., 1988~. Nevertheless, this economic profile of the average American child does not capture the growing disparity among families with children. Levels of income and assets among nonwhite children, though greater than in the 1960s, remain far below those of white children, and especially for minority
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TRENDS IN WOW, Few LO AND CHILD Cow $35,000 $32,000 $29,000 $26,000 $23,000 $20,000 $1 7,000 $1 4,000 $20,807 (1 960) - / I ....... . ....... . ~ ... ....... ,. - - . ....... ................... ...... .... , , . ~ , ........... ........ ....................... ........ . ' ' ' ~ ........ ....................... ., ~ ........ ~ ........ ....................... .,., ............ ........ ....................... ........ . ~ ....... ........... ........ ........... ........ ........... ....... ~ ........ ............... ....... .......... .... . ~ ·, ........... ....... ................... ... , . ~ ---I : 1 $29,647 (1 978) $29,458 (1 986) $26,6 1 8 (1 982) 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 Shade, recessional periods YEAR In 1986 dollars 25 FIGURE 2-7 Median Family Income, 1~0-19~. Sour=: Bureau of the Census (1987), Mono Income of somehow, Famides, and Person in the United States: 1986. Current Population Remus, Se es P-60, No. 159. Washington D.~: U.S. Department of Rammer=. chi dren in single-parent fami ies. Overall, the level of economic inequality as measured by income and assets has increased substantially over the past generation (Cher in, 1988; Haveman et al., 1988; Minari, 198 ). Children whose mothers were in the labor force were more economi- caDy secure in 1987 than chi dren of nonwor ing mothers, regardless of race or fami y structure. s indicated in Figure 2-8, median income of married- couple families with children under 13 was $34,267 in 1988; the income of mother-only families with children under 13 was only $8,305. Although the overall earnings of white, black, and Hispanic mothers is not substantially different, levels of median income in two-parent, two-earner families vary significantly by race and Hispanic origin, largely because the average earn- ings of white husbands is greater than those of black or Hispanic husbands (Bureau of the Census, 1988c). Although their earnings are significantly lower than their husbands' earnings, working women make a substantial contribution to family income. Between 1960 and 1986, the average proportion of income earned by the wife in a two-parent family rose from approximately 20 percent to 30 percent. Although this proportion varied significantly depending on work experience, occupation, education, and full- or part-time employment, wives who worked full time all year contributed on average almost 40 percent of family income in 1986; those who worked part time or who worked full
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26 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? $50,000 $40,000 ~ $30,000 o of $20,000 $1 0,000 O White ,............ .~:~:~:~:~: : ..:::: ..~. A......... ........... ........... - ·:-:-:-:-:-: :--::::: ............. ............. ·:-.-:-:-:-: : :~.: .: . Black Not in labor force -...... |~ ;A In labor force · -:-.-:-:-: ............. ..~ ·....... :~:~:~:~:~:~: . ',::::..: ..-.......... .:,..:. ~ . .: .:.:-.:.:.:-:- .-.-.-........ ............. ......... - -. ·.- - ........ :-:.:.:.:-..: Hispanic _ _ iii: .:.: .~ ,:.:..:. ,-.,.... ......... ..................... :: ,:::: .-............ I:-.: ........ ...... . ~ .~.... :-:-:-:-:-:::: .-:-:.-:-:.:.:. ·:-:-:-:-:-: Married Single Married Single Married Single MOTHERS' MARITAL STATUS FIGURE 2-8 Median Family Income for Families With Children Under 13, lay Employment and Mantal Status of Mother, 1988. Source: Unpublished data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mantal and Family Charactenstics of the I~bo,r Force: March 1988. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. time for 26 weeks or less contributed about 12.5 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1987~. Children in mother-only families in which the mother was working were better off than those in families in which the mother did not work. However, they were not on average as well off as children in two-parent families, regardless of the mother's labor force participation. In mother- only families in which the mother worked, the median family income in 1986 was less than one-half that of all married-couple families with children. Moreover, it was less than $4,000 above the poverty level for a nonfarm family of four ($11,203) (Bureau of the Census, 1987a). Although white children in mother-only families were marginally better off than black or Hispanic children in mother-only families, all children in mother-only families were significantly less economically well off than their peers in two-parent families. Children in mother-only families in which the mother was not employed were generally living below the poverty level. The median income in such families was only $5,211 in 1988 (Bureau of the Census, 198&~. In 1986 nearly 12.7 million children, more than one of every five children under 18 in the United States, lived in families with an income below the official poverty level (Bureau of the Census, 1987b). The poverty rate for children, although lower in 1988 than in 1960, had increased significantly from 1970 to 1988. As might be expected, children in mother-only families were significantly more likely to be poor than those in two-parent families 59
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32 . C O s e la == ~= I a Cal - . _ o ¢ D - o o D a: `=a - c: CS ¢ - Cal PA I m E~ Ha Ct r Ct C) C, ~ 00 In- =t EN ~ ¢ O oO \0 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~00 ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 0 ~ ~ ~4 O ~ ~ ~ Go oo ~ UP O ~ oo oo ~ ~ ~ ax 0 Go 0 0 ~ ox ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~U) 00 o o. 0 ~ ~ ~ c~ In ~ 00 o - - No oN ) o ~ ~ ~oo oN k ~ ~ ~ ~ ~o- - o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . o ~ ~ S o m~ ~ oo ~ v) oo oo ~4 . . 1 oo ~ ~ ~ l ~ ko l oo ~ ~o ~ ox o o. oo ~ ~ o. ~o ~ Oi ~ oo ~oo oo oo ~ ~oo ~ o ~ ~ ~ ~ so Somo~oo =\om ~YooSo ~' So ~4 ~ ~ ~ oo ~ ~ ~ - - - o m~ o ~ oo ~ ~ oo o m~ Yo S ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~l l oo ~so ~ ~ ~ oo ~ ~ 0 cr ~ ~o ~ oo ~ ~, o ~ ~Yo ~ ~ ~oN ~ ~ ~u, <~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ - o oo ~ ~ o Yo ~ ~ oo ~ ~ ~ oo ~ 0 ~o`ci<~i =~ico cr`~ - Oi - - o ~ ~o~ S w) 0\ ~ ~ O OQ O ~ \0 0\ ~ ~ ~4 00 ~Yo ~ ~ ~ So oo ~ ~ ~ ~ oS S ~ o ( ~ ~ C~ =, G) ~ e E _ g E g 2 & ° r s s g s 2 e s O s e 2 0 sO s s 2 ~ s 2 e 2 2 s e r O e g 0 ° -8 e g u ~ ,<~;m m m m ~; m mm 0~z ~= o ~ Ox ~ _ W 0 ~q ~S W C~ t4 0 ~:S ;G Ct m 5~ ~~ C) O C) ~0 ~_ Ct . . e~ V)
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY ED CHILD Cam 33 they place their children in organized out-of-home facilities. Mothers with 4 or more years of college education and those holding managerial or professional positions appear to prefer organized child care programs to more informal arrangements in their own home or in another home. Mothers with less than a high school education and those in service jobs are much less likely to choose organized child care facilities. In part this reflects the fact that women in service positions are more likely to work evening or night shifts and therefore may be more able to rely on husbands or other relatives as caretakers. In addition, the lower annual earnings of women in service positions may affect their ability to pay for organized child care services (Bureau of the Census, 1987c). Parents' use of child care arrangements often becomes more extensive and complicated when there is more than one child in the family. Sup- plementing school and preschool programs with one or more other forms of organized or informal child care services appears to be commonplace in many families. Included among these arrangements may be in-home care by a relative or a nonrelative; out-of-home care by relatives, friends, neighbors, or other paid caretakers; and special arrangements when a usual routine is disrupted. Children under compulsory school age are especially likely to experience multiple forms of care by multiple caretakers during the course of a normal week if their parents are employed. A recent sur- vey of child care use in three cities showed that approximately one-quarter of preschool-age children are cared for in more than one arrangement. For the large majority, secondary arrangements are care by relatives or informal arrangements with friends, neighbors, or other nonrelatives. Sec- onda~y arrangements are more likely than primary child care arrangements to be located in the child's own home. However, children whose primary arrangement is care by relatives are less likely to have a secondary arrange- ment (Kisker et al., 1988~. Although little is known about the variations in "packaging of care arrangements" for families in different social and eco- nomic circumstances, it appears to be becoming more prevalent in many families (Kamerman and Hayes, 1982~. The extent to which parents' use of different types of child care arrangements reflects their preferences or their range of options is difficult to determine. Surveys that have questioned parents about their satisfaction with current arrangements show that the majority are satisfied and do not desire a change (Kisker et al., 1988; Wavers et al., 1982~. Parents indicate that convenience, location, and cost are primary determinants of these selections. However, expressed preferences for center-based care seem to be increasing among mothers of children at all ages. The shift appears to be related, at least in part, to parents' desire to encourage and enhance their children's learning experiences. Available evidence suggests that mothers who prefer center care base their preference on the belief that children
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34 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? learn more in more educational settings (Atkinson, 1987; Kisker et al., 1988~. In contrast to the general population, recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFD C) express stronger preferences for family day care (by nonrelatives) than child care centers. In one recent study, in-home care by a nonrelative was rated most satisfactory by low-income mothers receiving AFDC, even though they perceived their children to be less happy in family day care than in center care (Sonenstein and Wolf, 1988~. The reasons underlying these stated preferences are not clearly understood. As we discuss in Chapter 8, however, there is some evidence to suggest that supply constraints, which exist for everyone, are particularly strong for many low-income families: the cost of center care limits its accessibility. Poor single parents are even more constrained in their choices. They frequently face not only the high (to them) cost of center care but the unavailability of a spouse with whom to share child care responsibilities. Furthermore, the option for low-income parents to rely on other relatives has also diminished as grandmothers, aunts, and extended family members have increased their own labor force participation in recent years (Kisker et al., 1988; Sonenstein and Wolf, 1988~. IMPLICATIONS OF CHILD CARE: FOR WOMEN'S EMPLOYMENT AND FERTILITY Changing patterns of women's employment and family structure have profoundly influenced the use of supplemental child care services in the United States. At the same time, the availability and affordability of child care services appear to have significant effects on mothers' decisions to enter, reenter, or remain in the labor force, with consequent effects on decisions concerning fertility. A growing body of research shows that the ease with which women can arrange for the care of their children, their satisfaction with the arrangement, the amount they must pay, as well as their wages and job satisfaction affect a calculation of their gains from employment (Leibowitz and Waite, 1988; Sonenstein and Wolf, 1988~. An important factor affecting a mother's decision to work is the amount she must pay for child care relative to what she can earn. For many employed mothers, the cost of child care is a major household budget item. In 1985, the national median weekly child care expenditure was $38 per child per week overall, and it was $42 per week for preschool-age children (Bureau of the Census, 1987c). However, the amount families pay for child care varies dramatically by the type of care they choose and the geographic area in which they live. The lack of child care clearly keeps some women from working at all and inhibits their ability to pursue education or job training. Poorly
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY ED CHILD Cam 35 educated women with little work experience earn low wages, and unless they can find subsidized, affordable, or free child care, employment may not make economic sense to them. Some analysts have argued that this constraint explains why employment rates among high school dropouts and young unmarried mothers have actually declined over the past decade while employment rates for better educated women have jumped (O'Connell and Bloom, 1987; Sonenstein and Wolf, 1988~. If true, this phenomenon has both short- and long-term consequences: women who remain out of the labor force fail to develop job skills through work experience and on-the- job training. They thus forgo the growth in earnings that accompanies experience, and over time, their training and skills depreciate from lack of use (Mincer and Ofek, 1982~. Child care is not only a constraint on entry into employment for low- ~ncome women, it can also constrain sustained employment. In order for a mother, especially a single parent, to maintain consistent labor force participation, her child care arrangements must be dependable. In a 1985 Current Population Survey sample, 6 percent of employed mothers reported that they had lost time from work in the past month because of the failure of child care arrangements. Over a year's time, the proportion of women reporting lost time would be substantially higher (Bureau of the Census, 1987c; Sonenstein and Wolf, 1988~. Among mothers who have some discretion about when and how much they work outside the home, the availability and affordability of "ade- quate child care" also affect decisions to seek employment. A mother's labor force participation necessarily reduces her time and energy for home production activities, including child care, transportation, housework, and shopping. Earnings may be used to replace these functions. Lazaer and Michael (1980) estimated that because of lost home production and the expenses directly related to employment, two-parent families with an em- ployed mother require 25 to 30 percent more income to maintain the same standard of living as a comparable family in which the mother works only at home. Child care is the most essential home production activity, and it is most expensive and time-consuming when children are very young. As children get older, they require less parental time, thus shifting the costs and benefits of mothers' employment (Oppenheimer, 1974~. The clear implication is that in families in which a mother's income is not essential to basic subsistence, her decision concerning whether to work outside the home will be significantly influenced by the net economic gain from her earnings. Because many women work in occupations that pay relatively low wages (Reskin and Hartmann, 1986), the incentive to work will depend heavily on their husbands' income. The more their husbands earn, the less likely that women with young children will enter, reenter, or remain in
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36 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? the labor force unless they can find "adequate child care at an acceptable price" (Leibowitz and Waite, 1988). That the availability and affordability of child care pose constraints on women's employment is supported in national survey data and a variety of smaller studies. In 1982, 26 percent of mothers of preschool children who were not in the labor force reported that they would be looking for work if they could find satisfactory child care, and 16 percent of employed mothers reported that they were constrained in their work hours by the availability of satisfactory child care. Substantially more unmarried mothers (45 percent) than married mothers (22 percent) indicated that they would work if child care were available at a reasonable cost. Women with family incomes over $25,000 were least likely to express such intentions (O'Connell and Rogers, 19834. More recent data from the youth cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Labor Market Experience, which oversamples low-income and minority women, confirms findings from the Current Population Survey (Leibowitz and Waite, 1988~. Similarly, a recent GAO study of AFDC recipients found that 60 percent of the respondents reported that a lack of child care prevented them from participating in current work programs, although only 17 percent said it was a very significant barrier (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1987~. Confirmatory evidence also comes from several smaller studies that indicate that some women with low earnings find employment profitable only because they have access to free or very low- cost care from relatives (Leibowitz et al., 1988) and that the cost and availability of child care services constrain the number of hours they work (Mason, 1987~. Women who find it difficult or costly to combine work and motherhood may have to choose between them in some sense. Traditionally, most women who chose motherhood stayed out of the labor force when they had young children. More recently, a significant and rapidly growing proportion of women are continuing to work after marriage and after giving birth. Employed women have historically had smaller families than women who work only in the home. Scholars have debated whether low fertility permits employment or whether employment leads to low fertility. Research suggests that, in the long term, women tailor their childbearing to their work and career goals, but in the short run the demands of a new baby reduce labor supply (Cramer, 1980; Hout, 1978; Leibowitz et al., 1988; Waite and Stolzenberg, 1976~. Both fertility and expected family size decrease with increasing com- mitment to the labor force. Among women aged 18 to 34, the fertility rate for those who were employed in 1987 was 890 per 1,000 women, compared with 1,673 per 1,000 for those who were not in the labor force. Similarly, the lifetime birth expectation for working women was 1,967 per 1,000 women, compared with 2,320 per 1,000 for women who were not in
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY ED CHILD Cam 37 the labor force. Even more striking is the difference in the proportion of women who expect to remain childless: 11.3 percent of employed women and 5.7 percent of women who were not in the labor force (Bureau of the Census, 1988b). Presser and Baldwin (1980) found that women with chil- dren under age 5 who reported that they were constrained in work by child care were generally more likely to expect to have no more children than were women of comparable employment status who reported no child care constraints. This finding suggests that some women who feel constrained in their employment choices by lack of child care (or lack of affordable child care) resolve this dilemma by having fewer children (Leibowitz and Waite, 1988~. Other research supports this contention, but the effects appear to be quite modest (Blau and Robins, 1986; Mason, 1987~. To the extent that child care costs and availability affect the timing of childbearing or women's completed family size, these constraints could affect later economic well- being as well. Hofferth (1984), for example, found that women who waited until at least age 30 to begin having children and those with smaller families were better off at retirement age than those who had a first birth earlier and those with relatively large families. Families in which the mother is employed benefit directly from her earnings. The income she generates contributes directly to her own support and that of her family. As discussed above, that income is essential to ba- sic subsistence and economic independence in many mother-only families. In two-parent families it may be used to provide enrichment for children through enhanced educational opportunities. In addition, mothers' em- ployment often improves families' access to health care, if health insurance benefits are provided or subsidized by the employer (Leibowitz and Waite, 1988~. Moreover, women themselves gain in long-term earning power from continuous employment while their children are young. Work experience, together with job tenure, is an important determinant of current earnings. Mothers who enter the work force or remain employed after childbearing increase their current income, and they enhance their opportunities to earn more in the future. 1b the extent that child care poses a constraint on women's employment, it decreases their long-term earnings potential and may, in the short term, threaten the economic well-being of their families. FUTURE TRENDS The dramatic demographic and economic trends of the 1970s and the 1980s seem likely to continue into the 1990s. Although specific patterns and rates of change in mothers' labor force participation, children growing up in single-parent families, and children who will require care outside their own homes are dependent on a variety of factors, there is general
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38 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? 100 90 80 70 z 60 G llJ CL 50 40 30 10 _ O 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 it_ 1 970 _ _- Children 6-17 ye A Children O-s years ~ ~ fat- - 1 980 ~Projected YEAR 1 990 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2000 FIGURE 2-11 Children With Mothers in the Labor Force, 1970-2000. Source: Projections prepared by Kristin Moore, Child [lends, Inc. Data from House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, U.S. Children and Their Families: Current Conditions and Recent Trends (1989), based on data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, March 1988. 100 90 80 70 As 60 IL O 50 LL CL 40 30 Two-parent households - Mother-only households 20 Households with neither parent _ fir 10 ~ ~I Father-only households to 1 960 1970 1 980 YEAR 1 990 2000 FIGURE 2-12 Composition of Households With Children Under 18, 1960-2000. Source: Projections prepared by Kristin Moore, Child fiends, Inc. Data from House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families (1989), US. Children and Their Families: Current Conditions and Recent Trends, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, March 1988.
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY; AND CHILD CARE 39 agreement that the trends of the past decade and a half will not be reversed in the near future. Straight-line projections of the proportion of children with mothers in the labor force suggest that by 2000 approximately 80 percent of school-age children and 70 percent of preschool-age children will have mothers who are working or looking for work outside their homes (see Figure 2-11~. Demographers also- project that if current patterns continue, one-third of all U.S. children will live in single-parent families by 2000 (see Figure 2-12~. Among minority children, the proportions are likely to be consider- ably larger. One can predict with some certainty that many of these children will require care from adults other than their parents. The growing propor- tion of children living with only one parent, usually their mothers, coupled with the rising labor force participation of extended family members who were once available to provide child care, suggests that the demand for out-of-home child care services will continue to increase well into the 1990s. REFERENCES Atkinson, A.M. 1987 A comparison of mothers' and providers' preference and evaluations of day care services. Child and Youth Care Quarterly 16~1~:35-47. Blau, D.M., and P.K Robins 1986 Fertility, Employment and Child Care Costs: A Dynamic Analysis. Paper presented at meetings of the Population Association of America, San Francisco. Bureau of the Census 1979 Divorce, Child Custody, and Child Support. Current Population Reports, Series P-23, No. 84. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. 1987a Money Income of Households, Families, and Persons in the United States: 1986. Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 159. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. 1987b Poverty in the United States, 1986. Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 160. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. 1987c Who's Minding the Kids? Current Population Reports, Series P-70, No. 9. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. 1988a Fertility of American Women: June 1987. Current Population Reports, Series P-20, No. 427. Washington D.C: U.S. Department of Commerce. 1988b Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1987. Current Population Re ports, Series P-20, No. 423. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. 1988c Money Income and Poverty Status in the United States: 1987. Current Popu lation Reports, Series P-60, No. 161. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1987 Marital and Family Characteristics of the Labor Force: March 1987. Unpub- lished data. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. 1988 Marital and Family Characteristics of the Labor Force: March 1988. Unpub- lished data. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.
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40 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? Cain, V., and S.L~ Hofferth 1987 Parental Choice of Self Care for School-Age Children. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, Chicago. Cherlin, A.J. 1981 Mamas, Divorce, Remarriage. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 1988 The family. In I. Sawhill, ea., Challenge to Leadership: Economic and Social Issues for the New Decade. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute. Cramer, J.C. 1980 Fertility and female employment: Problems of causal direction. American Sociological Review 45:167-190. Easterlin, R.A. 1987 Struggle for relative economic status. In R.~ Easterlin, ea., Birth and Fortune: The Impact of Numbers on Personal Welfare, 2nd ed. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press. Garfinkel, I., and S.S. McLanahan 1986 Singe Mothers and Their Children: A New American Dilemma. D.C.: The Urban Institute. Grossman, A. 1978 Children of Working Mothers, March 1977. Special Labor Force Report 217, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. 1983 Children of Working Mothers, March 1982. Special Labor Force Report, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor. Haveman, R., B.L Wolfe, R.E. Finnie, and E.N. Wolff 1988 Disparities in the well-being among U.S. children over two decades: 1962-1983. In J. Palmer, T. Smeeding, and B. Torrey, eds., The Vulnerable. Washington D.C.: The Urban Institute. Hayes, C.D., ed. 1987 Asking the Future: Adolescent Sexually, Pregnancy, and Childbeanng. Panel on Adolescent Pregnancy and Childbearing, Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. Hofferth, S.L" 1984 Long-term economic consequences for women of delayed childbearing and reduced family size. Demography 21~23:141-155. 1985 Updating children's life course. Joumal of Mamage and the Family 47:93-116. Hofferth, S.L, and D.A. Phillips 1987 Child care in the United States: 1970-1995. Joumal of Marriage and the Family 49:559-571. Hout, M. 1978 The determinants of marital fertility in the U.S., 1968-1970: Inferences from a dynamic model. Demography 15:139-160. Kamerman, S.B., and CD. Hayes, eds. 1982 Families That Work: Children in a Changing World. Panel on Work, Family, and Community, Committee on Child Development Research and Public Poligy, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Kisker, E.E., R. Maynard, A. Gordon, and M. Strain 1988 The Child Care Challenge: What Parents Need and What Is Available in Three Metropolitan Areas. Draft report. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, N.J.
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TRENDS IN WORK, FAMILY; AND CHILD CARE 41 Lazaer, E.P., and R.T. Michael 1980 Real income equivalents among one-earner and two-earner families. American Economics Review 70~23:203-208. Leibowitz, A, and LJ. Waite 1988 The Consequences for Women of the Availability and Affordability of Child Care. Paper prepared for the Panel on Child Care Policy. Leibowitz, As, IN. Waite, and C. Witsberger 1988 Child care for preschoolers: Differences lay child's age. Demography 25~23:205 220. Levy, F. 1987 Dollars and Dreams: The Changing American Income Distribution. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Masniek, G., and M.J. Bane 1980 The Nation's Families: 1960 1990. Boston: Auburn House. Mason, K.O. 1987 The Perceived Impact of Child Care Costs on Women's Labor Supply and Fertility. Population Studies Center Research Report No. 87-110, University of Michigan. Oppenheimer, V. Minank, J.L. 1988 Family incomes. In I. Sawhill, ea., Challenge to Leadership: Economic and Social Issues for the New Decade. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute. Mincer, J., and H. Ofek 1982 Interrupted work careers. Joumal of Human Resources 17:3-24. O'Connell, M., and D.E. Bloom 1987 Juggling Jobs and Babies: Amenca's Chdd Care Challenge. Population Trends and Public Policy Series, No. 12. Washington, D.C.: Population Reference Bureau, Ine. O'Connell, M., and C.C. Rogers 1983 Child Care Arrangements of Working Mothers: Fine 1982. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-23, No. 129. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. O'Neill, J. 1980 Tends in the labor force participation of women. Pp. 28-38 in CD. Hayes, ea., Word Family, and Community: Summary Proceeding; of an Ad Hoc Meeting. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 1974 The life eyele squeeze: The interaction of men's occupational and family life cycles. Demography 11:227-246. Presser, H.B. 1986 Shift work among American women and child care. Journal of Marriage and the Family 4643~:551-563. 1988a Shift work and child care among young dual-earner American parents. loumal of Marriage and the Family 50(Februa~y):3-14. 1988b Some Economic Consequences of Child Care Provided lay Grandmothers. Unpublished paper. Department of Sociology, University of Maryland. Presser, H.B., and W. Baldwin 1980 Child care use and constraints in the United States. Pp. 295-304 in Anne Horberg, ea., Women and the World of Work. New York: Plenum. Presser, H.B., and V.S. Cain 1983 Shift work among dual-earner couples with children. Science 219:876-879.
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42 WHO CARES FOR AMERICA'S CHILDREN? Reskin, 13.F., and H.I. Hartmann, eds. 1986 Women's Work, Men's World Sex Segregation on the Job. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Sonenstein, F.L, and D.N Wolf 1988 Caring for the Children of Welfare Mothers. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, New Orleans, La., April 21-23, 1988. Travers, J., R. Beck, and J. Bissell 1982 Measuring the outcomes of day care. In J. leavers and R. Light, eds., Leaming from Experience: Evaluating Early Childhood Demonstration Programs. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. U.S. Department of Education 1986 Pre-School Enrollment: Trends and Implications. Publication No. 065-000-0276-1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education. U.S. General Accounting Office 1987 Welfare: Income and Relative Poverty Stams of AFDC Families. GAO/HAD 88-9. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Waite, LJ., and R.M. Stolzenberg 1976 Intended childbearing and labor force participation among young women: Insights from nonrecursive models. American Sociological Review 41:235-252. Wilson, W.J. 1987 The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Zigler, E. 1983 Latchkey children: Risks and alternatives. Testimony on school-age day care for Senate Children's Caucus Policy Forum. Confessional Record 129(June 21~:88. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Representative terms from entire chapter: