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As states and cities design policies meant to “re-open” the economy, strategies for childcare arrangements should rank as an important consideration. Even if residents are able to return to their workplaces, much of the U.S. labor force could face obstacles if their childcare options remain closed.
According to economists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, nearly one-third of U.S. workers live in a household with a child under 14—which means about 50 million workers must consider childcare obligations when returning to work.
That was one finding from a new paper co-authored by Assoc. Prof. Jonathan Dingel and Prof. Joseph S. Vavra, along with Christina Patterson, who will join Chicago Booth as an assistant professor in July.
“Of course, many workers with children at home are not sole caregivers,” said Dingel, who studies spatial variation in economic activity. “Workers who live in a household with another non-working adult—such as a partner who is not employed, a retired parent or in-law, or an older child above 18 who lives at home—can likely return to work while another household member addresses their childcare needs. Unfortunately, not all households have that option.”