The time-use of Canadian immigrant families: differences in time inputs on child raising
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This thesis contains three chapters in cultural effects and integration experienced by parents born abroad and their Canadian-born children empirically measured using daily time diary records. Immigration policy introduced a point system to select immigrants in 1967. In the following decades, source countries for newcomers to Canada changed from predominantly U.S and European countries to the majority of newcomers now sourced from countries in which are more distanced culturally such as Asia, Africa and South America. Immigrant parents incur large initial settlement costs and, in many cases, may have dynastic motives for their children’s future well-being as adults behind moving decisions. Current and future well-being and economic prosperity of children depends in large part on the nuances of decisions made by parents with respect to familial resources. This thesis investigates the time-use of foreign-born parents and their children as measured by their daily time-use records to learn whether their cultural background, as captured by source country region, and their integration into Canadian society affects time-use allocation decisions. The focus of chapter one is on the inclination of immigrant parents to invest more (less) time with their children and on the measurement of the time inputs of their children into school related activities. Time spent by parents with their children is an input into the production function for children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skill development. With increased time spent by parents, children experience boosts in IQ and non-cognitive skills which can impact future labour outcomes. I model this relationship considering both the participation and intensity of time-use decisions. By investigating the difference in daily time spent with children, I find that conditional on participation, Asian parents spend between 37 and 22 more minutes on education related activities with their children on a daily basis than their Canadian-born counterparts. Moreover, Asian fathers are 10% more likely to participate in education related activities with their children than Canadian-born fathers, while Asian mothers are equally likely to participate than Canadian-born mothers. Given participation, South-Central American mothers and European and African fathers are each spending around 20 more minutes on education activities with their children than their Canadian-born counterparts. Both the children of Asian-born and African-born parents spend at least over 46 more minutes on homework activity than students with both Canadian-born parents. Although no difference by area of origin is apparent in the total care-time parents provide for their children, there are significant differences in terms of time specifically devoted to human capital investment activities by immigrant parents, and in the amount of time the children of African and Asian immigrants devote specifically to the completion of homework. The second chapter considers that the time parents spend with their children could be a compensating factor for household income deficits. Household income is a commonly used factor to measure the well-being of children and gage their prospects as adults. However, a broader interpretation of well-being is being adopted in Canada and Europe, which includes non-economic dimensions that center around support for family and relationships as part of strategy for economic growth. Current empirical evidence documents financial hardships experienced by adult newcomers to Canada with respect to otherwise similar Canadian-born adults. This fact suggests that the competing nature of a parent’s time into labour and household activities may be particularly relevant for immigrants. I use a CES utility function to estimate a two-dimensional poverty line that allows for compensation of an abundant resource (time) to become non-poor in a multidimensional sense. We find that immigrants parents are more likely to be poor in income, but not in time spent with children and although they are 2.5-5% more likely to be simultaneously poor in both time and income, only about 4-7% of immigrant parents spend enough time with their children to sufficiently compensate for income deficits. These results redefine poverty status for immigrant groups since they indicate that immigrant parents place a high value on this time (over labour activities). This could be due to lack of sufficiently valuable employment opportunities or a lack of adequate support network that provides quality time spent with children. Chapter three addresses the interdependence of several categories of time allocation, as mediated by the immigration process and gender. Paid work and the decision to trade-off with leisure and other household duties has changed significantly in households over the past 50 years with the incorporation of women into the labour force. Traditionally, economics modelled time-use decisions with dichotomous labour-leisure choices. This resulted in family decisions where the highest wage earner specialized in work outside the household. However, recent research in children’s development highlighted other essential categories of pertinent family time-use, such as care provided to children. The decision to work and, at the same time, raise children, forces changes to the traditional economic plan of time-use with notions of opportunities for women to specialize in both critical aspects of family functioning and the need of fathers to be involved in child rearing. I model four categories of time-use – paid work, household production, leisure and child service – by a Seemingly Unrelated Regression Model (SUR) with particular focus on the immigrant integration process as mediated by gender. Compared to mothers born in Canada, mothers from Africa, Asia, Europe, and South-Central America spend up to 50 minutes less in daily leisure time, but there is not a significant difference in time spent with children. The result vanishes for Asian and South-Central American mothers once I control for years since migration, suggesting that sacrificing leisure may be involved in the process of integration. Parental time-use decisions play a role in the intergenerational mobility of children and as such, I also model four categories of time-use spent by young adults as I do for parents, but with time spent on total education activities – attending classes, finishing assignments - in place of child service with particular focus on time spent by young adults with a mother or father born abroad. I find that second generation young adults with Asian mothers or fathers are spending 41 and 31 less minutes in paid work and 54 and 58 more minutes on education activities and, likewise for young adults with a European mothers or fathers, 41 and 16 less minutes and 27 and 23 more minutes respectively. These results support previous research indicating that aspirations and expectations of parents and their children can vary by culture.
Cite this version of the work
Allison Mascella (2021). The time-use of Canadian immigrant families: differences in time inputs on child raising. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17455