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Do time use patterns influence fertility decisions? A cross-national inquiry


  • Lyn Craig

    () (Social Policy Research Centre, G2, Western Campus, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Sydney)


Birth rates are falling throughout the western world. There is no definitive answer as to why this is so. This paper investigates whether time use analysis could offer a useful perspective. It explores the way parenthood affects time allocation in four countries with different work-family policies, using data from the Multinational Time Use Survey (MTUS) World 5 series to compare the impact of children on adult time in Italy, Germany, Norway and Australia. It considers whether fertility decisions may be influenced by i) the gap between parents and nonparents in total paid and unpaid work undertaken, ii) how paid and unpaid work is divided between mothers and fathers, and iii) the proportion of total male and female work time that is paid before and after parenthood, and conducts multivariate analysis to isolate the effects of nationality, sex and parenthood. The study is very preliminary, but the results suggest that domestic gender inequity and low female workforce participation are associated with lower fertility and may affect parity progression. Further research using more extensive and detailed time use analysis could make an important contribution to understanding of fertility decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Lyn Craig, 2006. "Do time use patterns influence fertility decisions? A cross-national inquiry," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 3(1), pages 60-87, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:leu:journl:2006:vol3:p60-87

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Gershuny & John Robinson, 1988. "Historical changes in the household division of labor," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(4), pages 537-552, November.
    2. Ragni Kitterød, 2001. "Does the recording of parallel activities in Time Use Diaries affect the way people report their main activities?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 145-178, November.
    3. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
    4. Suzanne Bianchi, 2000. "Maternal employment and time with children: Dramatic change or surprising continuity?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(4), pages 401-414, November.
    5. C. Russell Hill & Frank P. Stafford, 1980. "Parental Care of Children: Time Diary Estimates of Quantity, Predictability, and Variety," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(2), pages 219-239.
    6. Zick, Cathleen D, 2002. "Clocking the Progress in Time Use Research: Review Article," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 435-442, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Del Boca, Daniela & Locatelli, Marilena, 2006. "The Determinants of Motherhood and Work Status: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2414, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    time use; children; fertility decline; gender; work-family; comparative policy analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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