IPP Policy Brief n°26 - April 2017

How does children’s school schedule affect mothers’ labor supply? Temporal flexibility and inequalities on the labor market

IPP Policy Brief  n°26

April 2017

Authors : Emma Duchini and Clémentine Van Effenterre

Contacts : c.vaneffenterre@psemail.eu, duchini.emma@gmail.com

 

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logo-pdf-minHow does children’s school schedule affect mothers’ labor supply? Temporal flexibility and inequalities on the labor market

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Summary :

France’s 2013 reform of the school schedule, which reallocated a half day of classes to Wednesday morning for students in kindergarten and primary schools, is a small revolution in the organisation of time in the French society. This policy brief demonstrates that the school schedule not only has an impact on children’s learning, but also influences women’s labour supply decisions. The French setting reveals the presence of two types of inequality in the labour market: inequality between women and men, and inequality between highly educated and
low-educated women. Before the 2013 reform, women whose youngest child was in primary school were twice as likely as men not to work on Wednesday, and thus to adjust their work schedule to that of their children. In addition, the decision to work on Wednesday was correlated to women’s level of education, as mothers with a university degree were less likely to work on Wednesday than women without a university degree, although they worked more hours on average per week. The reorganisation of the school schedule resulting from the 2013 reform induced mothers to restructure their working schedule too: while, at least in the short term, the reform did not affect the number of hours worked per week, it enabled more women to work on Wednesday, resulting in a 15% reduction in the Wednesday gap with men in less than two years.

Key notes :

  • Children’s school schedule directly influence how women organize their
    working schedule, which is not the case for men.
  • Not all women can have a flexible working schedule: prior to 2013,
    mothers with a university degree were more likely not to work on
    Wednesday than those with at most a high-school degree (45% vs. 41%),
    even though they worked more hours per week (36 hours vs. 33 hours).
  • The 2013 reform of the school schedule has given mothers an opportunity
    to re-allocate their working time: without increasing their number of hours
    worked per week, it has led to an increase in the percentage of women
    working on Wednesday, reducing the gap between women and men along
    this dimension by 15%.

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