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Is the future of work childless? Self-employment and fertility


  • Gonçalves, Judite
  • Martins, Pedro S.


The growth of self-employment and in particular gig work may explain part of the declining fertility rates observed in many countries. This study examines this question drawing on longitudinal data to compare women’s fertility, proxied by maternity leave uptake, when self-employed or wage workers. It considers the case of Portugal, which allows to focus on structural aspects of work types, as fertility-related social protection there does not discriminate between self-employment and wage work. Results indicate that there are no statistically significant differences in fertility between employees and self-employed women. These findings highlight the importance of social protection for the self-employed, at least as far as their fertility is concerned.

Suggested Citation

  • Gonçalves, Judite & Martins, Pedro S., 2019. "Is the future of work childless? Self-employment and fertility," GLO Discussion Paper Series 401, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:401

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gustavo A. Caballero, 2017. "Responsibility or autonomy: children and the probability of self-employment in the USA," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 493-512, August.
    2. Karina Shreffler & Amy Pirretti & Robert Drago, 2010. "Work–Family Conflict and Fertility Intentions: Does Gender Matter?," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 228-240, June.
    3. David H. Autor & David Dorn & Gordon H. Hanson, 2013. "The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import Competition in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2121-2168, October.
    4. Florian Noseleit, 2014. "Female self-employment and children," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 549-569, October.
    5. Lyn Craig & Abigail Powell & Natasha Cortis, 2012. "Self-employment, work-family time and the gender division of labour," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 26(5), pages 716-734, October.
    6. Nevo, Aviv, 2001. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 307-342, March.
    7. 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.
    8. Nzinga Broussard & Ralph Chami & Gregory Hess, 2015. "(Why) Do self-employed parents have more children?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 297-321, June.
    9. Anne Annink & Laura den Dulk & Bram Steijn, 2015. "Work-family state support for the self-employed across Europe," Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 4(2), pages 187-208, August.
    10. Carlianne Patrick & Heather Stephens & Amanda Weinstein, 2016. "Where are all the self-employed women? Push and pull factors influencing female labor market decisions," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 365-390, March.
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    More about this item


    fertility; instrumental variables; maternity leave; self-employment;

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • 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

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