Boy-Girl Differences in Parental Time Investments: Evidence from Three Countries

Michael Baker, Kevin Milligan

NBER Working Paper No. 18893
Issued in March 2013
NBER Program(s):   CH

We study differences in the time parents spend with girls and boys at preschool ages in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. We refine previous evidence that fathers commit more time to boys, showing this greater commitment emerges with age and is not present for very young children. We next examine differences in specific parental teaching activities such as reading and the use of number and letters. We find the parents commit more of this time to girls, starting at ages as young as 9 months. We explore possible explanations of this greater commitment to girls including explicit parental preference and boy-girl differences in costs of these time inputs. Finally, we offer evidence that these differences in time inputs are potentially important: in each country the boy-girl difference in inputs can account for a non-trivial proportion of the boy-girl difference in preschool reading and math scores.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


This paper was revised on September 25, 2013

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18893

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Fortin, Oreopoulos, and Phipps w19331 Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement
Baker and Milligan w17105 Maternity Leave and Children's Cognitive and Behavioral Development
Milligan and Wise w18229 Health and Work at Older Ages: Using Mortality to Assess the Capacity to Work across Countries
Gelber and Isen w17704 Children's Schooling and Parents' Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study
Stevenson and Wolfers w14969 The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us