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Balancing Work and Family: New Mothers’ Employment Decisions During Childbearing

In: Non-Standard Employment and Quality of Work. The Case of Italy


  • Andrea Neri


  • Martina Lo Conte


  • Piero Casadio

    (Banca d'Italia)


In the past decade, several countries, notably France, Spain and Germany, have experienced a joint increase in female participation and fertility, mainly because of national policies aimed at balancing work and family life. In Italy, by contrast, fertility has remained relatively stable (after a period of significant decline) while increases in female participation rates have been modest. Numerous explanations for this apparent anomaly have been advanced in the literature, This paper studies the employment decisions of Italian mothers (and their determinants) during the childbearing period, using for the purpose the Italian Birth Sample Survey. In the two years surrounding childbirth, 20 per cent of women in employment before pregnancy leave the labour market, while only 4 per cent start to work after delivery. Most of the drop-out probability – about 70 per cent – is due to voluntary work exit, while one fourth is due to temporary employment or firm’s bankruptcy. An explanation of the results is that this period is particularly critical, and that the difficulties faced by new mothers are among the factors that contribute to keeping their participation rate at a low level.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Neri & Martina Lo Conte & Piero Casadio, 2012. "Balancing Work and Family: New Mothers’ Employment Decisions During Childbearing," AIEL Series in Labour Economics,in: Tindara Addabbo & Giovanni Solinas (ed.), Non-Standard Employment and Quality of Work. The Case of Italy, edition 1, chapter 3, pages 39-52 AIEL - Associazione Italiana Economisti del Lavoro.
  • Handle: RePEc:ail:chapts:06-03

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    labour supply; child-care; part-time; fertility; work-life balance; fixed term contracts; gender.;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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