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Production, Reproduction, and Education: Women, Children, and Work in a British Perspective


  • Heather Joshi


This article reviews findings of studies by the author and colleagues on relationships between women's work and the reproduction of the British population based on data for female birth cohorts 1922-70. The studies address three questions: (1) How do children affect women's paid work and lifetime earnings? (2) How does women's employment affect the quantity of children born? (3) How does women's employment affect the "quality" of children? The answers are affected by the woman's educational attainment. On question 1, childrearing may often halve lifetime earnings, but seldom for the well educated. By contrast, any effects from employment to childbearing are most apparent in the late motherhood of the well educated. Child quality, as assessed by indicators of child development, benefits from maternal education and suffers little from maternal employment. The economic advantages for children in dual-career families are thus unabated. A widening gulf between mothers will tend to polarize the life chances of their children, unless there are more options to combine employment and childrearing, especially including good-quality child care for those who cannot afford the market price. Education is a powerful influence, but does not alone solve all issues of equity, whether between families or between sexes. Copyright 2002 by The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Heather Joshi, 2002. "Production, Reproduction, and Education: Women, Children, and Work in a British Perspective," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(3), pages 445-474.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:28:y:2002:i:3:p:445-474

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dankmeyer, Ben, 1996. "Long Run Opportunity-Costs of Children According to Education of the Mother in the Netherlands," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(3), pages 349-361, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hippolyte D'Albis & Angela Greulich & Grégory Ponthière, 2017. "Development, fertility and childbearing age: A unified growth theory," PSE Working Papers halshs-01452846, HAL.
    2. Emily Grundy & Sanna Read, 2015. "Pathways from fertility history to later life health: Results from analyses of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(4), pages 107-146, January.
    3. Pierre Pestieau & Gregory Ponthiere, 2013. "Childbearing Age, Family Allowances, and Social Security," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 385-413, October.
    4. Pierre Pestieau & Gregory Ponthiere, 2014. "Optimal fertility along the life cycle," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(1), pages 185-224, January.
    5. Felix C. Tropf & Jornt J. Mandemakers, 2017. "Is the Association Between Education and Fertility Postponement Causal? The Role of Family Background Factors," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(1), pages 71-91, February.
    6. Harman, Juliet & Graham, Hilary & Francis, Brian & Inskip, Hazel M., 2006. "Socioeconomic gradients in smoking among young women: A British survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(11), pages 2791-2800, December.
    7. Pierre Pestieau & Gregory Ponthiere, 2015. "Optimal life-cycle fertility in a Barro-Becker economy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 45-87, January.
    8. Ann Berrington & Juliet Stone & Éva Beaujouan, 2015. "Educational differences in timing and quantum of childbearing in Britain," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 33(26), pages 733-764, October.
    9. Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthière, 2011. "Childbearing Age, Family Allowances and Social Security," Working Papers hal-00612613, HAL.
    10. Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthière, 2011. "Optimal Fertility along the Lifecycle," Working Papers hal-00612609, HAL.
    11. Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthière, 2012. "Optimal Lifecycle Fertility in a Barro Becker Economy," Working Papers halshs-00676500, HAL.
    12. Javier García-Manglano, 2015. "Opting Out and Leaning In: The Life Course Employment Profiles of Early Baby Boom Women in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(6), pages 1961-1993, December.

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