Changing maternity leave policy: Short-term effects on fertility rates and demographic variables in Germany
Changes in reproductive behaviour and decreasing fertility rates have recently led to policy actions that attempt to counteract these developments. Evidence on the efficacy of such policy interventions, however, is limited. The present analysis examines fertility rates and demographic variables of a population in Germany in response to new maternity leave regulations, which were introduced in January 2007. As part of a population-based survey of neonates in Pomerania (SNiP), all births in the study region from the period 23 months prior to January 1st, 2007 until 23 months afterwards were examined. Crude Birth Rates (CBR) per month, General Fertility Rates (GFR) per month, parity and sociodemographic variables were compared using bivariate techniques. Logistic regression analysis was performed. No statistically significant difference in the CBR or GFR after Jan. 1st, 2007 was found. There were statistically significant differences in other demographic variables, however. The proportion of mothers who (a) were employed full-time before pregnancy; (b) came from a higher socioeconomic status; and (c) had higher income levels all increased after January 1st, 2007. The magnitude of these effects was higher in multigravid women. Forward stepwise logistic regression found an odds ratio of 1.79 for women with a family income of more than 3000[euro] to give birth after the new law was introduced. This is the first analysis of population-based data that examines fertility rates and sociodemographic variables in response to new legal regulations. No short-term effects on birth rates were detected, but there was a differential effect on the subgroup of multigravidae. The focus of this policy was to provide financial support, which is certainly important, but the complexity of having a child suggests that attitudinal and motivational aspects also need to be taken into account. Furthermore, these analyses were only able to evaluate the short-term consequences of the policy; further studies are needed to assess for different, long-term effects.
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Volume (Year): 71 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
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