"Tag-Team Parenting" Used by Lower-Income, Less-Educated Parents

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August 29, 2006

"Tag-Team Parenting" Used by Lower-Income, Less-Educated Parents

For Immediate Release: August 29, 2006

Contact: Lynn Erskine, 202-293-5380 x115

Washington, DC:  Parents with lower incomes and less education are more likely to work alternating schedules than richer and more educated families, according to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.  White parents are more likely to have similar work schedules and less "tag-team parenting" than Hispanic or mixed race/ethnicity families.

The report, "Tag-Team Parenting," by economist Heather Boushey, looks inside families where parents work alternating schedules to understand how they balance work and child care. It finds that young, low-income and less-educated parents are more likely to work different shifts to provide childcare. To read the report, click here.

"Many American families cannot afford the luxury of sitting down together for dinner. Social policy should aim to ensure that working parents, and workers more generally, are able to balance work and family," said Boushey.

The report finds that:

  • Less educated parents are more likely to work evening and night shifts. Among working mothers without a high school degree, only 58.5 percent have a day shift.  
  • Within two-earner, married-couple families with young children, the most common kind of childcare is formal daycare (29.4 percent), followed closely by relative care (27.3 percent), then parental care (25.5 percent). Lower-income two-earner married couples are more likely to use parental and relative care than higher-income families.
  • While 27.1 percent of married mothers use parental care, only 10.3 percent of single mothers report parental care as their most common kind of childcare.
  • Low-income mothers are more likely to report that they work their current schedule to address childcare needs (41.5 percent) compared to those in the top income quartile (30.0 percent).
  • The older a family is, the more likely it is that the spouses have similar schedules.


“While some parents choose to work alternating schedules to care for their children, many families do not have any choice in the matter. It is all that is available or affordable,” said Boushey.


The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. CEPR's Advisory Board of Economists includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University; and Eileen Appelbaum, Professor and Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University.