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The comparative effectiveness of public policies to fight motherhood-induced employment penalties and decreasing fertility in the former EU-15

  • Jérôme De Henau
  • Danièle Meulders
  • Sile Padraigin O'Dorchai

In this paper we aim to study and compare the countries of the former EU-15 in terms of the difference in labour market conditions between mothers and non-mothers and we look at how public policies can be designed in order to minimise the employment penalties associated with the presence of young children and thus promote parenthood by working women. As women choose to take part in paid employment, fertility rates will depend on their possibilities to combine employment and motherhood. As a result, the motherhood-induced employment penalties discussed in this paper as well as the role of public policies should be given priority attention by politicians and policy-makers. Firstly, in this paper we start out from a multinomial logit model to analyse motherhood-induced employment gaps in the EU-15. Then, various decomposition techniques (the method of recycled prediction and the Oaxaca (1973) and Blinder (1973) technique adapted to the non-linear case) are applied to the computed gross FTE employment gaps between mothers and non-mothers to isolate the net employment effect associated with the presence of children from that of differences in characteristics between mothers and non-mothers. Special attention is also given to the specific role of education to contain the negative labour market consequences that derive from the presence of young children. It seems that differences in characteristics such as age, education and non labour personal income do not influence a lot the difference in employment status. Secondly, we use an OLS regression to confront motherhood-induced employment penalties with selfconstructed country-specific indicators of child policies, used as explanatory variables, in order to test the impact and effectiveness of policies of different design and generosity on these employment gaps that separate mothers of young children from non-mothers and mothers with grown up children. We round off our analysis by presenting a new typology and country-specific overview of the adjustment mechanisms applied by career-pursuing mothers on the labour market as well as of the supportiveness of different child policies. In the conclusion, we carefully review the main results of this research, advance a number of policy recommendations and suggest interesting avenues for future research.

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series DULBEA Working Papers with number 06-02rs.

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Length: 50 p.
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published by: DULBEA - Université libre de Bruxelles, Bruxelles
Handle: RePEc:dul:wpaper:06-02rs
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://difusion.ulb.ac.be

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  1. A. Chevalier & T. K. Viitanen, 2002. "The causality between female labour force participation and the availability of childcare," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(14), pages 915-918.
  2. Marit Rønsen, 2004. "Fertility and Public Policies - Evidence from Norway and Finland," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 10(6), pages 143-170, May.
  3. Lisa M. Powell, 1997. "The Impact of Child Care Cost on the Labour Supply of Married Mothers: Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 577-94, August.
  4. Gustafsson, Siv S, et al, 1996. "Women's Labor Force Transitions in Connection with Childbirth: A Panel Data Comparison between Germany, Sweden and Great Britain," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 223-46, August.
  5. Hotz, V Joseph & Miller, Robert A, 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 91-118, January.
  6. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Letablier, Marie-Th駻鑚e, 2003. "Fertility and Family Policies in France," Discussion Paper 160, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  8. Robert W. Fairlie, 2003. "An Extension of the Blinder-Oaxaca Decomposition Technique to Logit and Probit Models," Working Papers 873, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  9. Barbara Petrongolo, 2004. "Gender Segregation in Employment Contracts," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 331-345, 04/05.
  10. Danièle Meulders & Jérôme De Henau & Sile Padraigin O'Dorchai, 2006. "The childcare triad? indicators assessing three fields of child policies towards working mothers in the EU-15," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7724, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1998. "The Economic Consequences Of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons From Europe," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 285-317, February.
  12. Denise Doiron & Guyonne Kalb, 2002. "Demand for Childcare Services and Labour Supply in Australian Families," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 35(2), pages 204-213.
  13. Dex, Shirley, et al, 1998. "Women's Employment Transitions around Child Bearing," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(1), pages 79-98, February.
  14. Albrecht, James W. & Edin, Per-Anders & Sundström, Marianne & Vroman, Susan B., 1996. "Career Interruptions and Subsequent Earnings: A Reexamination Using Swedish Data," Working Paper Series 1996:23, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  15. Andren, Thomas, 2003. "The choice of paid childcare, welfare, and labor supply of single mothers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 133-147, April.
  16. Tarja K. Viitanen, 2005. "Cost of Childcare and Female Employment in the UK," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(s1), pages 149-170, December.
  17. Del Boca, Daniela & Locatelli, Marilena & Vuri, Daniela, 2004. "Child Care Choices by Italian Households," IZA Discussion Papers 983, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Charles Michalopoulos & Philip K. Robins & Irwin Garfinkel, 1992. "A Structural Model of Labor Supply and Child Care Demand," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(1), pages 166-203.
  19. Ondrich, Jan & Spiess, C Katharina & Yang, Qing, 1996. "Barefoot and in a German Kitchen: Federal Parental Leave and Benefit Policy and the Return to Work after Childbirth in Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 247-66, August.
  20. Connelly, Rachel, 1992. "The Effect of Child Care Costs on Married Women's Labor Force Participation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 83-90, February.
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