Child Care Availability and Fertility in Norway: Pro-Natalist Effects

Ronald R. Rindfuss, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
David Guilkey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Oystein Kravdal, University of Oslo
Karen B. Guzzo, University of Pennsylvania

Perhaps no other change has had such a widespread influence on fertility as changes in women's work roles. Many would argue that this is behind the extremely low levels of fertility in Japan and numerous European countries. There have been a number of arguments that the availability of acceptable child care would have a positive effect on fertility. To date there has not been empirical support for this intuitively appealing hypothesis. The reasons involve both the lack of appropriate data in most countries to test this hypothesis and inappropriate analytical strategies. Using data from the Norwegian Registration System together with child care availability data from 1973 to 1997 for Norway's 435 municipalities the analysis includes all women born in Norway 1957-1962, and still resident there at age 15. Using a fixed effects model, we find strong, statistically significant, positive effects of child care availability on the transition to motherhood.

Presented in Session 105: International Responses to Low Fertility