Mother's Time on Meal Preparation, Expenditures for Meals Away from Home, and Shared Meals: Effects of Mother's Employment And Age of Younger Child


  • This research was supported by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and by USDA Hatch Formula Funds Project 2365.

  • The authors would like to thank Nancy Hook, Geraldine Olson, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


Family role theory is the framework used to guide this study of how mother's employment and age of younger child affects mother's time in meal preparation and cleanup, expenditures for meals away from home, and meals shared by the family both at home and away. Eleven null hypotheses are generated and tested using data from the 11 state urban/rural comparison of families' time use. Analysis of covariance (with total family income controlled) is the primary statistical tech nique employed. Results indicated that the time spent by mothers in meal prep aration/dishwashing varied by their employment, and age of the younger child. Expenditures for meals purchased away from home did not differ by the mother's employment status or age of the younger child. Meals eaten together as a family were not related to the mother's employment status in urban areas, but were related in rural areas. Where meals were eaten together varied by employment status of the mother and age of the younger child. Implications for home econ omists and suggestions for future research are presented.