Boys, Girls, and Grandparents: The Impact of the Sex of Preschool-Aged Children on Family Living Arrangements and Maternal Labor Supply
41 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 15, 2016
This paper considers how the sex of preschool-aged children can affect living arrangements and maternal labor supply. In an extended family with young children, the joint decisions of co-residence and time allocations are driven by the concern that the companionship of children is a household public good and that family members share childcare and related domestic duties. The incentive to share children’s companionship is affected by son preference, whereas the economic motive for labor division hinges on the potential wage rate of the mother. The preference for sons drives the decisions in households with mothers whose wage rates are low, whereas both channels determine the decisions in households with mothers whose wage rates are high. Using China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) data, we find that among less-educated mothers, the incidence of a family co-residing with the paternal grandmother is at least 8.6 percentage points higher if the firstborn is a boy. At the same time, maternal labor supply increases by 2.892 days per month. By contrast, for educated mothers, the propensity for co-residence is higher, and the working hours are longer than for less-educated mothers, and the impact of the child’s sex is not significant. This paper not only provides a better understanding of the demographic and economic factors determining co-residence and intra-household time allocations, but also lends empirical support to policies aiming to increase female labor supply and improve the well-being of girls.
Keywords: Living Arrangement; Maternal Labor Supply; Son Preference; Child Care
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