Affordability, Availability or Desirability? an Empirical Analysis of Children's Opportunities to Attend Guided Leisure Activities.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Juliane ACHATZ, IAB Institute for Employment Research, Germany
Leisure activities with peers are supposed to play an important role in the social development of children and adolescents and may therefore contribute to their social wellbeing. Particularly participation in guided activities like extra-curricular music or art education, sports or club activities has taken an increased interest in the last years. Recent research points to the existence of a social bias in the extent to which children and youth participate in guided activities. Empirical studies show disadvantages of poor children regarding opportunities to take part. However, some studies also point out that a number of low-income parents nevertheless manage it to make ends meet and to enable their children to attend to courses or similar organised meetings.

This leads to the question if participation is mainly related to financial conditions irrespective of other factors like family structure and educational background of parents. To disentangle effects of financial constraints from other factors is an important policy concern. In 2011, the German government introduced education and inclusion subsidies for children of low-income families. This policy approach implies the assumption that risks of social exclusion are mainly due to financial hardship that can be effectively counteracted against by providing financial support.

This study aims to test the impact of three main factors - financial resources of the family, perceived quality of the living environment and parental background regarding education and leisure preferences - on participation opportunities of children and adolescents. The empirical analysis is based on representative micro-level data from the German Panel Survey “Labour Market and Social Security” (PASS). Findings from a hybrid random effects regression model suggest that a stimulating home environment seems to be a key factor of children’s participation opportunities, irrespective of the economic status of the family.