Discussion Paper no. 05-01


The bases for family change include an economy that provides more work opportunities for women, and a cultural orientation that values equal opportunity and legitimates family models other than the traditional breadwinner model. At the same time, both quantitative and qualitative evidence suggest a prevalent preference for making accommodations for children that include considerable time with children, especially in the infant and toddler years. Thus the average experience is for women to do less and for men to do more paid work in two-parent families that include young children in the home. Our reading of parental preferences suggests an interest in more services for young children in the form of early childhood education and child care, but also interest in policy directions that would allow parents to spend more time with children, in the form of leaves, part-time work with good benefits, and subsidies that supplement market income. These accommodations are often less feasible in lone-parents, and thus child care is a higher priority in these families.