School Start Scrambles: The Interplay of Sociotemporal Factors on Women's Labor Force Participation

Boroka Bo , University College Dublin
Denys Dukhovnov, University of California, Berkeley
Rebecca Bettinger, London School of Economics
Kara Anderson, McGeorge School of Law

This study shows that K-12 school start times along with contextual school and area-level sociodemographic factors are significant predictors of women’s labor force participation. We draw on nationally representative survey data from three publicly available 2019 datasets: the American Community Survey, the National Historical Geographical Information Systems, and the Unlocking Time Survey. Analyses involve two stages. First, ordinary least squares regressions evaluate statistically significant relationships. The second stage uses Monte Carlo cross-validation and parametric bootstrap analyses tests to assess the predictive accuracy of the full model. Our results show that later school start times have important ramifications, extending beyond the mental and physical well-being of children. Women’s labor force participation is nearly 5 percentage points higher in areas where schools start at or after the legally recommended time of 8:30am. We find that contextual economic and demographic factors are also significant when it comes to the relationship between school start times and in women’s ability to participate in the labor force. Our work represents an important contribution to the ongoing school start time policy debate sweeping the United States. Considering the temporal needs of women and children, this work has important policy implications for sociotemporal disparities in well-being.

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 Presented in Session 55. Labour Force Transitions and Life Stages