The price of parenting: the effect of parental involvement on labor market mobility

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The price of parenting: the effect of parental involvement on labor market mobility

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Title: The price of parenting: the effect of parental involvement on labor market mobility
Author: Olson, Toska
Abstract: This research explores fathers' participation in child rearing in the contemporary United States, and the effect of fathers' and mothers' parental involvement on their short-run labor market mobility. The study addresses questions of central importance to family researchers, scholars concerned with gender inequality, and scholars interested in the intersections between work and family. Guided by the insights of human capital, socialist feminist, and social constructionist theories, this research investigates the extent to which contemporary fathers are actively engaged in parenting their children, and the impact of fathers' parenting on their attainments in the labor market. The study utilizes data from a large-scale, nationally representative survey of over 13,000 American families, who were interviewed in 1987 and again in 1994. Throughout the study the parenting behaviors and labor market outcomes of fathers are compared to those of mothers.The first part of this project focuses on cultural meanings of fatherhood, and in particular on how highly involved fatherhood can be conceptualized and defined. The author proposes that fatherhood is multidimensional, and that highly involved fatherhood includes affective, ideological, and behavioral components. This portion of the study concludes with a descriptive analysis of the patterns and extent of fathering behaviors. In general, fathers are shown to be far less involved in parenting than mothers; this is especially the case for active behavioral interaction with children.The second part of the study examines how fathers' and mothers' involvement in child rearing impacts their labor market mobility. Many parenting behaviors had no impact on labor market outcomes, suggesting that the claims of human capital theorists that work and family compete for attention are inaccurate. However, many types of parental involvement were significantly and positively related to labor market outcomes. This suggests that men and women who are highly involved parents may do even better in the labor force than those who are less active parents. These findings are interpreted using socialist feminist and social constructionist theories. The relationships between parenting and mobility persist after statistical controls are introduced for potential confounding variables. The author discusses, and rejects, various alternate interpretations of these findings.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1997

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