ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Spatial Perspectives on Working Mothers' Child Care Decisions

Peter Brandon

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 10 - Law Building, Room 105
Date: 2012-07-12 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-01


Sociologists have been concerned with mothers' labor force participation decisions and their child care decisions for at least 20 years. Over two decades of research has shown that these two maternal decisions - the number of hours to work in the labor force and who will care for young children while at work - are interdependent. Although sociologists studying work and family issues now know much about the importance of affordable and accessible child care to mothers' entries into the labor force and the number of hours to work, the spatial dimensions of mothers' child care decisions are still unexplored. Yet, for many working mothers, (except for those whose relatives or partners are available for child care), they must first take their children to the child care providers before going onto their workplaces. Clearly, where child care providers are located, the time taken to transport children to child care locations, and then where workplaces are located are spatial issues. Despite child care arrangements of working mothers possessing these spatial dimensions, few researchers have specifically examined the correlations among locations of child care providers, commuting times to providers, and locations of workplaces. This paper addresses maternal child care decisions from a spatial perspective and the methodological issues which arise when space is considered. Because the paper is primarily focused on introducing spatial methods into child care research, the paper will address the specific data requirements for conducting spatial analyses of mothers' child care decisions, and how to collect and assemble appropriate spatial data so that accurate findings from spatial regression models are produced. Thus, the paper will demonstrate the connection between the collection of spatial data and the application of regression models with spatial child care data. Overall, the paper aims to give a new spatial perspective on the important topic of working mothers' child care decisions.