Several studies indicate that the manner in which children spend their time affects their cognitive and social development. But, the time that a child dedicates to compulsory and extra-curricular activities depends on a set of key factors such as family demographic and economic characteristics, social and behavioral norms, and how parents allocate their time. Although these studies focus on the impact of parental investments (time and resources) on child cognitive development, minimal information regarding children’s use of time is available. Our empirical approach is based on the assumption that attitudes and behavioral norms may be considered as latent factors related to how both mothers and children allocate their time. Therefore, focusing on the strict connection between time, parental and child resources and attitudes, we estimated in a Seemingly Unrelated Regression Estimation model how children and mothers spend their time. Data come from the National Time Use Survey 2008–2009 carried out by the Italian National Statistics Office. The use of a simultaneous-equation model to estimate all activities, taking into account the unobservable components included in the error terms, provides an innovative method for analyzing children’s time allocation, by identifying the influence of latent variables common to mother and child’s use of time. In particular, the estimated correlations between the error terms confirm that parental activities affect the children’s allocation of time even through unobservable factors, such as subjective attitudes. The main results support the thesis that the mother’s level of education plays an important role in the positive child outcomes. In addition, we found that the same trend that exists between Italian men and women also exists between boys and girls; and that girls spend more time in domestic activities and reading for pleasure and less time in leisure activities.

Children’s Use of Time and Well-Being in Italy

Giovanni Busetta
Primo
;
Maria Gabriella Campolo
;
Antonino Di Pino Incognito
Ultimo
2019

Abstract

Several studies indicate that the manner in which children spend their time affects their cognitive and social development. But, the time that a child dedicates to compulsory and extra-curricular activities depends on a set of key factors such as family demographic and economic characteristics, social and behavioral norms, and how parents allocate their time. Although these studies focus on the impact of parental investments (time and resources) on child cognitive development, minimal information regarding children’s use of time is available. Our empirical approach is based on the assumption that attitudes and behavioral norms may be considered as latent factors related to how both mothers and children allocate their time. Therefore, focusing on the strict connection between time, parental and child resources and attitudes, we estimated in a Seemingly Unrelated Regression Estimation model how children and mothers spend their time. Data come from the National Time Use Survey 2008–2009 carried out by the Italian National Statistics Office. The use of a simultaneous-equation model to estimate all activities, taking into account the unobservable components included in the error terms, provides an innovative method for analyzing children’s time allocation, by identifying the influence of latent variables common to mother and child’s use of time. In particular, the estimated correlations between the error terms confirm that parental activities affect the children’s allocation of time even through unobservable factors, such as subjective attitudes. The main results support the thesis that the mother’s level of education plays an important role in the positive child outcomes. In addition, we found that the same trend that exists between Italian men and women also exists between boys and girls; and that girls spend more time in domestic activities and reading for pleasure and less time in leisure activities.
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