The Effect of Children on the Housewife's Value of Time

Reuben Gronau
1973 Journal of Political Economy  
Much recent economic literature on the socioeconomic factors affecting fertility has focused on the "price" of children. A good bit of attention has been paid to the effect of the price the woman assigns to her time. It is argued that these time inputs constitute a predominant part of the costs of production of "child services," in particular while the child is young.1 The price of time has figured as a main determinant of almost every dimension of fertility: the amount of child services
more » ... d, the trade off between the quality of children and the number of children, the timing of the first child, and the spacing of the various children. The first endeavors were to associate the woman's price of time with the wage rate of working women who have the same market characteristics. An objection to this procedure is that the wage rate of working women is net of her general on-the-job training costs and that a true measure of the price women have to pay for having children should include the costs of depreciation of their market skills as well as the value of appreciation of their nonmarket skills (Michael and Lazear 1971). Furthermore, over three-fifths of all American married women as yet abstain from entering into the labor force in any given week, implying in their behavior that they reject the wage offered to them by the market as an adequate compensation for the loss of nonmarket productivity (Willis 1969(Willis [rev. 1971 ; Gronau I benefited from suggestions by
doi:10.1086/260160 fatcat:lnzxoiuq2zd2bptdrwuqcx64d4