Does Fathers' Time in Childcare Matter for Child Cognitive Development?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Tomás CANO LOPEZ, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain
Francisco PERALES, University of Queensland, Australia
Janeen BAXTER, University of Queensland, Australia
Fathers’ involvement in childcare has for a long time been theoretically considered as a boost for children’s cognitive skills development. We empirically test this widely spread hypothesis using rich time use panel data from three waves of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (n=6,173 observations). We draw in developmental psychology’s theories to deduct our hypotheses as well as on recent dynamic models of intergenerational transmissions to test them. We examine how fathers’ time in childcare affect children’s cognitive achievement at ages 4 - 8. We test two different component of father-child time —the quantity and the content of that time. Then, we consider the effect of heterogeneity by paternal education. We find that fathers’ quantity and content of time have a positive effects for cognitive outcomes, being educational time the most productive input. In addition, we do not find differences in educational time inputs' effect for child’s cognition between high and low educated fathers. The later finding suggests that children from high educated fathers are exposed to higher quality of inputs during non-parental time. Finally, we find that media time with fathers have a positive effect for children in high educated households while it has not for low educated ones. This result suggests that the content of the media, which we cannot observe in our data, differs among educational levels, being those children from high educated fathers exposed to more cognitive stimulating contents during media time. The findings from this paper contribute to the debate about the benefits of men’s involvement in family life and the social reproduction of inequality. Implications are that policy makers must take into account effects of fathers’ time on child development.