Mothers' work and child care: Findings from the urban slums of Guatemala City

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

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High rates of urbanization and increasing levels of female participation in the labor force are beginning to increase the demand for nonparental child care in Latin America. Shifts in the structure of urban production toward manufacturing and industry mean that employment opportunities for women will increasingly occur in settings that are not compatible with child care. Rural to urban migration often means moving away from extended family, which decreases access to informal child care givers. Does child care provision have an impact on mothers' work? This study attempts to answer this question by analyzing the labor force participation, hours worked, and child care arrangements of mothers in the urban slums of Guatemala City. The study is based on data from a random sample of 1,300 mothers with preschool children residing in one colonia of Guatemala City in 1999, designed and collected as part of an impact evaluation of the Hogares Comunitarios government-sponsored day care program. It is different from previous studies on child care choice that take mothers' labor force participation as a given. Although those who demand child care are, for the most part, working mothers, if a mother's work status is influenced by the availability of child care, any examination of the determinants and consequences of child care choice should not be conditioned upon her work status. This unique survey was designed so that this difficult issue could be addressed. Information on a mother's current situation, her family background, her current household, her children, and her community was solicited from all mothers, both working and nonworking, so that care choices could be examined in conjunction with a mother's labor force activities.