Inequalities in Parental Spending on Young Children: 1972- 2010

Published in:
June 7, 2016

Sabino Kornrich, Emory University


This article investigates inequality in parental spending on young children over the period from 1972 to 2010. The study finds increased spending among parents at the top of the income distribution, but little change among parents at the bottom of the income distribution. The gap in spending is equally attributable to increased spending on center-based care for preschool age children and spending on enrichment goods and activities. The article examines potential causes of increased spending, including income, parental education, and wives’ work status, using decomposition analysis. Results indicate that higher incomes are the largest cause of the increased gap in spending, but that increases in wives’ earnings, college completion, and wives’ work hours are also important for growth in spending.

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