Fathers’ Provision of Childcare in the United Kingdom from a Couple Perspective: The Roles of Labour-Force Participation and Other Sources of Childcare

Ursula Henz, London School of Economics

An increasing body of research shows that fathers’ involvement in childcare is beneficial for children’s, mothers’ and fathers’ well-being. In the UK, analyses of the recent time-use survey show that the long-term increase in father involvement has ended; fathers’ childcare time and time with children have remained stable between 2000 and 2014. These findings refer to fathers who live with a partner and at least one child aged 14 or younger. However, there was some change regarding the type of childcare carried out by fathers. In 2014 fathers provided less physical care on weekend days than in 2000 and highly-educated fathers spent an increasing amount of time in interactive care on weekends compared to other fathers.

The presentation will give an overview over these latest changes and further explore them by applying a couple perspective on childcare. Mothers’ increasing labour-force participation between 2000 and 2014 should have affected father involvement. The resource-bargaining approach suggests that women with high qualifications can negotiate a greater childcare involvement of their partners. In addition, families from lower socio-economic groups depend on the additional income from mothers’ employment and fathers feel obligated to participate in childcare. Both approaches suggest a continuing increase in father involvement, but this might have been counteracted by increasing proportions of men’s and women’s jobs that are temporary and at non-standard hours. The presentation addresses two questions:

  • How were mothers’ and fathers’ labour-force participation and job conditions associated with their childcare involvement?
  • How was the use of other sources of childcare associated with fathers’ and mothers’ involvement in childcare?

The analyses are based on the 2000-01 and 20014-15 UK Time-Use Surveys (UKTUS), which provide childcare information for about 1000 (UKTUS 2000) and 630 (UKTUS 2014) couples with at least one child aged 14 years or younger.


Presented in Session 1105: Families and Households