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Off-scheduling within dual-earner couples

An unequal and negative externality for family time

May 2008

Paper presented at various conferences and seminars and published in the 2008 September issue of the American Journal of Sociology .

Using couple time diary data from two French time-use surveys (1985-86 and 1998-99) this article explores the extent to which off-scheduling within dual-earner couples is an unequal and negative externality for family time. An empirical typology of family workdays is built using a variant of Optimal Matching and three kinds of family time are taken into account: conjugal time, father- and mother-child time, and parents-child time. The results indicate that off-scheduling is an unintentional by-product of employers’ economic interests and that since it reduces conjugal and parents-child time but fails to foster temporal complementarity between parents it is a negative factor for family solidarity.