Gender-Specific Effects of Unemployment on Family Formation: A Cross-National Perspective
This paper investigates the impact of unemployment on the propensity to start a family. Unemployment is accompanied by bad occupational prospects and impending economic deprivation, placing the well-being of a future family at risk. I analyze unemployment at the intersection of state-dependence and the reduced opportunity costs of parenthood, distinguishing between men and women across a set of welfare states. Using micro-data from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP), I apply event history methods to analyze longitudinal samples of first-birth transitions in France, Finland, Germany, and the UK (1994-2001). The results highlight spurious negative effects of unemployment on family formation among men, which can be attributed to the lack of breadwinner capabilities in the inability to financially support a family. Women, in contrast, show positive effects of unemployment on the propensity to have a first child in all countries except France. These effects prevail even after controlling for labour market and income-related factors. The findings are pronounced in Germany and the UK where work-family conflicts are the cause of high opportunity costs of motherhood, and the gender-specific division of labour is still highly traditional. Particularly among women with a moderate and low level of education, unemployment clearly increases the likelihood to have a first child.
|Date of creation:||2008|
|Date of revision:|
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- Angelika Tölke & Martin Diewald, 2003. "Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 9(3), pages 41-68, September.
- Katharina Wrohlich & Fabien Dell & Alexandre Baclet, 2005. "Steuerliche Familienförderung in Frankreich und Deutschland," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 72(33), pages 479-486.
- Eileen Trzcinski & Elke Holst, 2003. "Hohe Lebenszufriedenheit teilzeitbeschäftigter Mütter," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(35), pages 539-545.
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