Family Change and Time Allocation in American Families
Delayed marriage and childbearing, more births outside marriage, the increase in women’s labor force participation, and the aging of the population have altered family life and created new challenges for those with caregiving demands. U.S. mothers have shed hours of housework but not the hours they devote to childrearing. Fathers have increased the time they spend on childcare. Intensive childrearing practices combine with more dual-earning and single parenting to increase the time demands on parents. Mothers continue to scale back paid work to meet childrearing demands. They also give up leisure time and report that they “are always rushed” and are “multitasking most of the time.” Time-stretched working couples reduce the time they spend with each other. A large percentage of both husbands and wives also report they have “too little time” for themselves. Delayed childbearing and the aging population also increase the likelihood that both (adult) children and elderly parents need support and care from workers later in life.
Suzanne M. Bianchi is distinguished professor of sociology and holds the Dorothy Meier Chair in Social Equities at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on the changing American family, time use and gender equality, and intergenerational caregiving.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a 2010–2011 visiting scholar appointment at the Russell Sage Foundation supported the research for this article.
- © American Academy of Political & Social Science 2011