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.
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- Michele Pellizzari, 2004.
"Unemployment Duration and the Interactions Between Unemployment Insurance and Social Assistance,"
272, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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- Angelika Tölke, 2003. "Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
- Virve Ollikainen, 2006. "Gender Differences in Transitions from Unemployment: Micro Evidence from Finland," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(1), pages 159-198, 03.
- Witte, James C. & Wagner, Gert G., 1995. "Declining Fertility in East Germany After Unification: A Demographic Response to Socioeconomic Change," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 387-397.
- 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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