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Women's Reports of Men's Childcare Participation: An Examination of African-American and White Families

; Thousand Oaks Vol. 5, Iss. 1,  (Aug 1996): 13-19,21,23-30,76. DOI:10.1177/106082659600500102
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Over the past several decades, the demand for childcare providers has increased, largely because of the increase in the labor-force participation of women with young children (Rix, 1991). Studies suggest that the demand for care has not been met (see Browne Miller, 1990; Hayes, Palmer, & Zaslow, 1990). Traditionally, women often relied on female relatives (children's aunts, grandmothers, older siblings) as a source of childcare (Hayes et al., 1990), but recent research indicates that, in general, the use of female relatives as care providers has declined, partly because of an overall increase in women's labor-force participation and the likelihood that women will remain in the labor force for longer periods of time (Hayes et al., 1990; Presser, 1989). In other terms, the pool of available care providers is shrinking as a result of increased activity by women in the paid labor force. However, African-American women are still more likely to use relatives for child care than are white women, suggesting that high labor-force participation rates do not fully account for who is used as a childcare provider.

Researchers note that the reports of fathers acting as primary care providers have remained stable over the last 20 years (Coverman & Sheley, 1986; Hayes et al., 1990; Presser, 1989) even though women's labor-force participation has increased. However, Presser (1986, 1988, 1989) argues that dual-earner couples often employ the strategy of shift work (scheduling paid labor time in such a way as to avoid overlap in work schedules so that each spouse can be available for childcare) as a way of accommodating their childcare needs. Some researchers also report that African-American fathers are more likely than white fathers to take part in childcare tasks and that African-American families are more egalitarian in the distribution of family roles (Beckett & Smith, 1981; Ericksen, Yancey,...