Harmonising extended measures of parental childcare in the time-diary surveys of four countries – Proximity versus responsibility

Killian Mullan, Lyn Craig

Time-diary data, measurement of parental childcare, cross-national harmonisation of measures of childcare, time geography

Measures of childcare drawn from time-diary data are commonly based on the specific childcare activities a parent engages in throughout the day. This emphasis on activities has been criticised as it ignores the large quantity of time parents spend supervising their children. In order to provide more accurate estimates of childcare that incorporate supervisory childcare, researchers have turned to extended measures of care based on being i) in proximity to children or ii) responsible for children. There has been debate about the extent to which these approaches each measure the same aspect of childcare. In addition, it is thought they may be sensitive to the way surveys have been designed, which can affect the extent to which they can be compared crossnationally. We argue that measures of proximity and responsibility are conceptually interchangeable, and demonstrate that they can be harmonised and compared cross-nationally. Finally, we suggest ways in which these extended measures of childcare can be made increasingly comparable cross-nationally.