Child care and labor force participation among low and middle-income urban mothers
The study focuses on the relationship between child care use and labor force participation among American mothers. The major research questions addressed are: (1) What is the nature of mothers' child care arrangements and how have these changed in the last two decades?; (2) What is the cost of and satisfaction with these arrangements?; (3) What are the determinants of types of child care used?; (4) What conflicts does child care pose for employed mothers; (5) To what extent is lack of child care a constraint to mothers who want to work for pay? Evidence on variation in child care use and conflicts with child care controlling for income level, race/ethnicity and marital status is presented. Data were analyzed from (1) a 1988 survey of a random sample of 989 working mothers of preschool age children in South Chicago, Camden and Newark, New Jersey, (2) a 1983-1984 survey of a random sample of 1694 low income black and Hispanic, single mothers in five U.S. cities and (3) a 24 month followup survey of 428 of the 1694 single mothers interviewed in 1983. Data from the 1975 National Child Care Consumer Study and from a 1985 supplement to the Survey of Income and Program Participation were also utilized.
Since 1975, child care provided by relatives is the most common primary child care arrangements used by mothers. The reliance on family members is particularly prevalent among poor, single black and Hispanic mothers despite an overwhelming preference for group child care centers suggesting an absence of choice over type of child care used among these mothers.
Problems with cost, availability and quality of child care have prevented substantial numbers of currently employed mothers from working in the past, or caused them to change jobs of job schedules. Among nonemployed mothers, lack of child care is a constraint to employment and a greater constraint to job search activities for poor, single mothers than for middle income mothers. Among poor, single mothers, a major obstacle to labor force participation is lack of job benefits.
Families & family life;
Minority & ethnic groups
0628: Families & family life
0628: Personal relationships
0631: Minority & ethnic groups