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Gender-Specific Effects of Unemployment on Family Formation: A Cross-National Perspective

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  • Christian Schmitt

Abstract

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 ontrolling 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Schmitt, 2008. "Gender-Specific Effects of Unemployment on Family Formation: A Cross-National Perspective," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 841, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp841
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Eileen Trzcinski & Elke Holst, 2003. "Hohe Lebenszufriedenheit teilzeitbeschäftigter Mütter," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(35), pages 539-545.
    3. Virve Ollikainen, 2006. "Gender Differences in Transitions from Unemployment: Micro Evidence from Finland," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(1), pages 159-198, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Pellizzari, Michele, 2006. "Unemployment duration and the interactions between unemployment insurance and social assistance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 773-798, December.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hippolyte D'Albis & Angela Greulich & Grégory Ponthière, 2015. "AVOIR UN ENFANT PLUS TARD Enjeux sociodémographiques du report des naissances," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01298929, HAL.
    2. Marie-Thérèse Letablier & Anne Salles, 2013. "Labour market uncertainties for the young workforce in France and Germany: Implications for family formation and fertility," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13004, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    3. repec:eur:ejesjr:55 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:zbw:rwirep:0422 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Michael Kind & Jan Kleibrink, 2013. "Sooner or Later – Economic Insecurity and the Timing of First Birth," Ruhr Economic Papers 0422, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Marie-Thérèse Letablier & Anne Salles, 2013. "Labour market uncertainties for the young workforce in France and Germany: Implications for family formation and fertility," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00786291, HAL.
    7. Hande Inanc, 2015. "Unemployment and the timing of parenthood," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(7), pages 219-250, January.
    8. Ariane Pailhé & Anne Solaz, 2012. "The influence of employment uncertainty on childbearing in France: A tempo or quantum effect?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 26(1), pages 1-40, January.
    9. Petra Stein & Sebastian Willen & Monika Pavetic, 2014. "Couples' fertility decision-making," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(63), pages 1697-1732, June.
    10. Alberto Cazzola & Lucia Pasquini & Aurora Angeli, 2016. "The relationship between unemployment and fertility in Italy," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 34(1), pages 1-38, January.
    11. Addabbo, Tindara & Rodríguez-Modroño, Paula & Gálvez-Muñoz, Lina, 2015. "Young people living as couples: How women's labour supply is adapting to the crisis. Spain as a case study," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 27-42.
    12. repec:hal:journl:hal-01298929 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Marloes Lange & Maarten Wolbers & Maurice Gesthuizen & Wout Ultee, 2014. "The Impact of Macro- and Micro-Economic Uncertainty on Family Formation in The Netherlands," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 30(2), pages 161-185, May.
    14. Marie-Thérèse Letablier & Anne Salles, 2012. "Labour market uncertainties for the young workforce in France and Germany : implications for family formation and fertily," Working Papers 180, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
    15. Aksoy, Cevat Giray, 2014. "Are Fertility Responses to Local Unemployment Shocks Homogenous Across Social Strata? Evidence from England, 1994 to 2010," MPRA Paper 58292, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Kind, Michael & Kleibrink, Jan, 2013. "Sooner or Later – Economic Insecurity and the Timing of First Birth," Ruhr Economic Papers 422, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    family formation; fertility; unemployment; cross-national comparison;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies

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