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Hispanic Family Facts: Fathers’ Time Spent with Children, Before and After the Great Recession

The Great Recession affected millions of American households with children. Hispanic workers were among the hardest hit, along with those with a high-school degree or less. Despite the recession’s negative impact, Hispanic children were no more likely to experience low and unstable income shortly after the Great Recession than they were just prior it.

The Great Recession also shifted the allocation of time spent across paid work and other activities, including time spent with children. For this issue of Hispanic Family Facts, Lisa Gennetian and Christopher Rodrigues looked at how the allocation of time spent changed among low-income parents prior to (2003-May 2008) and after the Great Recession (June 2008-2013). Drawing from data from the American Time Use Survey, they examined time spent in paid work, housework, leisure, TV watching, and with children.

They found no differences in time spent with children between these two periods among low-income white, black, or Hispanic mothers. In contrast, among fathers, the allocation of time spent with children and in paid work changed. Low-income Hispanic fathers reduced their time in paid work by 32 minutes and increased their time with children by roughly 11 minutes per day, representing a 28% increase in time spent with children. Low-income white fathers showed similar shifts, though the increases in time spent with children were smaller.  Additional analyses (not shown here) suggest that the trade-offs between paid work and time spent with children reflected responses by low-income Hispanic fathers to changes in the labor market. The same pattern was not found among low-income white fathers.

Source: Unpublished tabulations by Lisa Gennetian and Christopher Rodrigues from NYU.