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Parents' Work Hours and Childcare Decisions: Exploiting a Time Windfall

Taehyun Ethan Kim (Ohio State University, USA)
Dean R. Lillard (Ohio State University, USA)

Time Use in Economics

ISBN: 978-1-83753-605-4, eISBN: 978-1-83753-604-7

Publication date: 14 December 2023


We model the conditions under which parents optimally reallocate time to childcare when an outside agent exogenously restricts the number of hours an employer can demand of a working parent. Theoretically, when the restriction binds, a parent's available time increases. We exploit a series of voluntary and mandated labor-market reforms in South Korea that regulated the statutory and maximum work hours of parents. The government implemented the laws in stages by industry and size of firms. This implementation process generates exogenous variation across families where one or both partners worked at jobs that were or were not affected by the reform. We show the reforms affected work hours and use the predicted changes to investigate the total amount they spent on paid childcare and whether or not they changed the relative use of market and parental care. When fathers get more time (work less), parents spend less money on childcare. A change in mother's work time does not affect expenditures. When parents get more time, they are more likely to spend money on paid childcare for school-age children and more likely to use private academies.




We have benefitted from the comments of participants at the 2022 Population Association of America and European Society of Population Economics conferences and a seminar at the University of Milan-Bicocca.


Kim, T.E. and Lillard, D.R. (2023), "Parents' Work Hours and Childcare Decisions: Exploiting a Time Windfall", Hamermesh, D.S. and Polachek, S.W. (Ed.) Time Use in Economics (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 51), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 135-159.



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