Childcare

Childcare

Data on childcare have been collected within various topical sections of the NLSY79 questionnaires.  The main data collection on types of childcare arrangements, discussed in detail below, occurred during the 1982-86, 1988, 1992, and 1994-2012 surveys.

A range of both retrospective and cross-sectional (past four weeks) childcare information is available in the NLSY79.  The mother-report child care sections from the NLSY79 provide the types of current childcare arrangements used for each child in the household, a retrospective of childcare experiences during the first three years of life for all children (of at least 1 year of age) born to the respondent, and in some survey years, the overall family expenditure for current care.

Retrospective

Retrospective data were gathered during the 1983-86, 1988, 1992 and 1994-2012 survey years for up to three childcare arrangements used by NLSY79 mothers. From 1983-1985, some questions were asked specifically regarding arrangements for the youngest child, along with various characteristics of the child care arrangements, and other children cared for under each arrangement.  In 1986 and in 1988 and subsequent survey years, mothers were asked about child care arrangements during each of the first three years of the child's life.  (While childcare information was not collected in the 1990 NLSY79 survey round it was updated in 1992.)

Cross-Sectional

Childcare information in the 1984 and 1985 NLSY79 surveys describes child care arrangements used in the past four weeks for the youngest child by parents who were either employed, in school, or in training at the survey date.  Location and type of primary and secondary care, hours of use, nature of payment and grandmother care are reported in 1984.  Location, type, payment, detail on group arrangements, and hypothetical care are available for 1985.  In both years, respondents who are not currently employed but who have an employed spouse report limited information on location and type of care.  The retrospective information collected in 1986 and the current child care information collected between 1984 and 1988 relate to different universes of children and utilize different child care definitions.  Additional child care information was also collected in the 1982 and 1983 NLSY79 surveys.

There are marked differences in the universes of respondents, reference children, kinds of questions asked, and reference periods across survey years (see Table 1 below).  Universes of respondents vary widely both within and across survey years, from respondents--both male and female--engaged in some educational or labor market pursuit, to all women with a child in the household, to not-employed respondents with an employed spouse.  The focus during the initial survey years was on collecting information on childcare arrangements used over the past month for only the youngest child(ren) in the household.

  • A limited number of childcare questions, fielded within the 1987, 1989, and 1990 fertility series, obtained information from select universes on:
    • Whether respondents made use of regular childcare arrangement
    • Whether respondents encountered childcare problems that affected their employment
    • The extent of responsibility for childcare assumed by female respondents during recent pregnancies
  • Out-of-the-labor-force respondents could specify within various sections of the yearly questionnaires, such as the 1980-98 "CPS or Current Labor Force Status" or 1979-2006, "Periods not Working" sections, that lack of available childcare or family responsibilities was a reason they were not looking for work or did not want a job now

In addition, information on whether childcare services were provided as a supportive service through Federally funded government employment and training programs was gathered during the 1979-87 surveys.  For those respondents residing in households with children under age 14, the special 1981 "Household Chore and Childcare" time use survey provides information on the amount of responsibility for providing childcare at home and actual time spent on a given day in specific childcare tasks.  The "Fringe Benefits" section of this guide details the collection of information on childcare as a benefit made available by employers of NLSY79 respondents.  Finally, a special experimental Childcare Supplement, administered to 347 NLSY79 mothers who were interviewed during the first month of the 1989 fielding, collected a wide range of information, including data on every childcare arrangement used for at least 10 hours per week since the date of last interview. Researchers interested in the 1989 special childcare supplement data should contact NLS User Services. A report evaluating the quality of various childcare data items is available from CHRR (Mott and Baker 1992).

Types and Locations of Childcare Arrangements

Data on types and locations of childcare arrangements are available for the 1982-86, 1988, 1992, and 1994-2012 survey years. Typical categories of childcare arrangements include self-care; care by relatives (the child's other parent, a step-parent, siblings, or grandparents); care by nonrelatives; and care provided by institutions such as day care centers, nurseries, or preschools.  Information on care provided by individuals usually differentiates between that occurring in the child's home and that occurring in another private home.  Information was gathered during select survey years (1983-86 and 1988) on both primary and secondary childcare arrangements.

Additional Characteristics of Childcare Arrangements: In addition, supplementary information has been collected during certain survey years on the number of hours that childcare services were required/provided, the nature of the payments (cash or noncash), total cost per child/per provider, and the effect of available childcare services on such activities as employment, job search, and training.

Table 1. Child Care Questions: 1982-2012 NLSY79 Surveys Including the Special 1989 Child Care Supplement

Year Universe Nature of Questions Time Reference Reference Children
 
1982 (1) All respondents in school, in training, employed, or on active duty with children in the household (1) Type and location of care; total weekly expenditures; days/hours in child care (1) Usually (1) Youngest and next youngest child
(2) Unemployed respondents (in school or training) with children in the household (2) Hypothetical type and location of child care if employed (2) Future (2) Youngest and next youngest child
(3) Same as (1) (3) Would availability of child care affect hours spent/ attendance at schooling, training, employment or job search (3) Future (3) --
 
1983 (1) All respondents in school, in training, employed or on active duty with children in the household (1) Types and location of primary and secondary care; hours; nature of payments (1) Last 4 weeks (1) Youngest child
(2) Women in school, training, employed or on active duty with children in the household (2) Would availability of child care affect hours spent/ attendance at schooling, training, employment or job search (2) Future (2) --
 
1984 (1) All respondents in school, in training, employed or on active duty with children in the household (1) Type, location, and hours of primary & secondary care; nature of payments; use of grandmother (1) Last 4 weeks (1) Youngest child in household
(2) Not employed respondents with employed spouse (2) Type and location of primary care (2) Last 4 weeks (2) Youngest child in household
(3) Women with a child in the household (3) Would availability of child care affect hours spent/attendance at school, training, employment or job search (3) Future (3) --
 
1985 (1) All respondents in school, in training, employed, or on active duty with children in the household (1) Type, location, and hours of primary & secondary care; nature of payments; total expenditures; retrospective on current arrangement; detail on primary group care (1) Last 4 weeks (1) Child in household who was youngest active in household in 1984
(2) Respondents employed or in active forces with children in the household (2) Hypothetical additional cost of primary care arrangement for respondents wanting to work more hours (2) Future (2) Youngest and next youngest child
(3) Same as (1) (3) Same as (1) (3) Last 4 weeks (3) Youngest child in household - no care data collected in 1984
(4) Same as (1) (4) Type and location of primary &secondary care (4) Last 4 weeks (4) Youngest child in household
(5) Respondents not in school, in training, or unemployed with employed spouse (5) Type and location of primary care and shift worked by spouse (5) Last 4 weeks (5) Youngest child in household
 
1986 (1) All women with children in the household (1) Type, location and hours of primary & secondary care; detail on primary group care; nature of payment; expenditures for all care (1) Last 4 weeks (1) All children in the household
(2) All mothers (2) Type and location of up to 5 arrangements at each age (2) First 3 years of life (2) All biological children at least one year old who resided with mother during most of 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd years of life
 
1987 (1) All respondents with children in the household (1) Use of a regular child care arrangement (1) Last 4 weeks (1) Any (not individually) children in the household
 
1988 (1) All women with a biological child in the household (1) Location, type, and hours of primary & secondary care; detail on primary group care; nature of payment; expenditures for all care (1) Last 4 weeks (1) Any (not individually) children in the household
(2) All mothers (2) Location and type of up to 3 arrangements at each age and extent of usage (2) First 3 years of life (2) All biological children at least one year old who resided with mother during most of 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd years of life
(3) Female respondents (3) Extent of responsibility for child care during recent pregnancies (3) During pregnancy (3) Any existing already during the pregnancy
 
1989 (1) Respondents who were employed or on active duty in past four weeks with children under age 14 in the household (1) Problems with regular child care arrangements that affected respondent's work (1) Last 4 weeks (1) All children under age 14 in household
1989 Supplement (1) Women with at least one child under age 14 in the household (1) Types and location of all child care arrangements lasting at least one hour; hours; characteristics of care giver; month/year began; reason needed child care (1) Last week (1) Any child
(2) Women with more than one child under age 14 in the household (2) Care giver used; hours; costs (2) Last week (2) Youngest and next youngest child
(3) Same as (1) unemployed only (3) Main reason not working; if child care available, would work; caretaker usually use when go out (3) -- (3) --
(4) Same as (1) employed only (4) Impact of sick child on work hours; type of child care for sick child; impact of problems with regular child care on job, training, school; types of child care problems; proximity of relatives (4) Last month/last 12 months (4) --
(5) Same as (1) except with children aged 5 and older (5) Usual child care arrangements for children after school (5) Regular school year (5) Youngest and next youngest child
(6) Same as (1) (6) Characteristics of up to 5 types of child care arrangements used for at least 10 hours in any week; dates and reason started/stopped; costs (6) Date of last interview (6) --
 
1990 (1) Female respondents (1) Extent of responsibility for child care during recent pregnancies (1) During pregnancy (1) Any existing already during the pregnancy
 
1992,
1994-2012
(1) All mothers (1) Location and type of up to 3 arrangements at each age and extent of usage (1) First 3 years of life (1) All biological children at least 1 year old who lived with mother during most of first three years of life

Comparison to Other NLS Cohorts: Childcare history in the first three years is on the NLSY79 Child Data File.  The NLSY97 Parent Questionnaire collected information from one of the youth's biological parents or another household adult on background information including childcare.  An expanded set of childcare questions was asked in round 5, 9, 12, and 15. In some years the Young Women and Mature Women answered questions concerning types and locations of childcare arrangements and the extent of childcare responsibility.  For more precise details about the content of each survey, consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide using the tabs above for more information.

References

Mott, Frank L. and Baker, Paula.  "Evaluation of the 1989 Child Care Supplement in the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth."  Discussion Paper 92-6.  Washington, DC:  U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Survey Instruments and Documentation Childcare questions are located in the "Childcare" sections of the questionnaires:  Section 16 (1982), Section 14 (1983), Section 11 (1984-87), and Section 10 (1988, 1992, and 1994-2012).  The limited set of childcare questions asked during 1987 and 1989 can be found within the Section 9 "Fertility" series.  The "Time Use - Household Chores & Childcare" questions are located in Section 19 of the 1981 questionnaire.  Users interested in childcare services provided within government training programs should reference the "Training" section of this guide.
Areas of Interest The 1982-2012 childcare questions can be found within the "Childcare" area of interest.  The 1980-98 "CPS" series have been placed in the "Misc. xxxx" areas of interest; "Periods Not Working within Job Tenure" includes the variables relating to childcare as a reason for not working for an employer.  Variables relating to childcare services provided to respondents holding government jobs or participating in government training programs are located within the "Government Jobs" and "Government Training" areas of interest.  The special set of 1981 time use questions relating to childcare can be found in "Time Use."