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Effects of Early Life Family Events on Women’s Late Life Labour Market Behaviour: An Analysis of the Relationship between Childbearing and Retirement in Western Germany

  • Karsten Hank


    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

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    The relationship between a woman’s reproductive history and her entry into retirement is not well-investigated yet. Will mothers exit the workforce earlier than childless women (as they have a weaker labour market orientation; as they are more likely to have a ‘male breadwinner’ in the household), or will they work longer to make-up for employment interruptions during their reproductive phase? We exploit data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to estimate discrete-time logit models for women’s transition to retirement, using detailed information on the individual’s fertility biography as main explanatory variables. Our primary finding is that having children delays a woman’s exit from the labour force. This effect tends to be stronger for mothers who experienced their first birth relatively late. Postponing fertility and retirement should both be driven by a relatively strong career orientation. Thus, in addition to household economic considerations, the individual’s evaluation of her worker role relative to her family role is likely to be important for her retirement timing.

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    Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 04047.

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    Date of creation: 18 May 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:04047
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    1. 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.
    2. Honig, Marjorie, 1998. "Married Women's Retirement Expectations: Do Pensions and Social Security Matter?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 202-06, May.
    3. Peracchi, Franco & Welch, Finis, 1994. "Trends in Labor Force Transitions of Older Men and Women," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 210-42, April.
    4. Dahl, Svenn-Åge & Nilsen, Øivind Anti & Vaage, Kjell, 2002. "Gender Differences in Early Retirement Behaviour," IZA Discussion Papers 522, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Blau, David M. & Riphahn, Regina T., 1999. "Labor force transitions of older married couples in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 229-252, June.
    6. repec:mea:meawpa:03036 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Easy Estimation Methods for Discrete-Time Duration Models," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 129-38, February.
    8. Axel Borsch-Supan & Barbara Berkel, 2003. "Pension Reform in Germany: The Impact on Retirement Decisions," NBER Working Papers 9913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Michael D. Hurd, 1990. "The Joint Retirement Decision of Husbands and Wives," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 231-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Siv Gustafsson, 2001. "Optimal age at motherhood. Theoretical and empirical considerations on postponement of maternity in Europe," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 225-247.
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