Parent Time Investment by Immigrants on Education and Caregiving Activities in Canada

A. Mascella

The time spent by parents on education and caregiving activities enriches the quality of the family environment. The quality of the family environment influences the process of child development and can predict productivity and academic achievement later in life. Success in intergenerational income and education mobility outcomes for second generation immigrants in Canada are documented to depend on parent’s birth place of origin. Besides health and work hours there is little work on time spent by immigrants and in particular, the time immigrant parents invest in their children.

In this paper we use the General Social Survey to construct measures of daily time-use in caregiving activities provided by parents for their children and in academic activities engaged in by students. We define a time-use category “education”, which is the time parents spend on activities like reading to children and helping with homework and a time-use category “total care”, which encompasses the time parents spend on activities like preparing meals and bathing children. From a sample of female parents surveyed during the school year whose youngest child in the house is no older than 14 years, we find that, female parents from Asia and South Central America spend more minutes per day devoted to education related activities with their children compared to native born Canadian female parents. This result is not apparent for the total care provided by parents, which suggests a unique parent region of origin effect on education related activities as a family time-use input.

For the analysis on the academic habits of students, we define a time-use category “homework” which is the total time spent by students in activities like completing assignments and exam studies and a time-use category “total school” which is the total time spent by students in activities like attending university classes and guest lectures. From a sample of students between the ages of 15-25 years, we find that students with Asian mothers or fathers are more likely to participate in homework activity and, conditional on participation, spend more minutes per day on homework activity compared to students with Canadian born mothers or fathers. The participation and intensity of time spent on homework activity by students from specific parent region of origin groups is not observed for total school activity. These results suggest that values and behaviours of an educational inclination are passed on in the home environment.