Labor Market Performance and the Timing of Births: A Comparative Analysis across European Countries

Alicia Adsera, University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago

During the last two decades total fertility rates in Europe have plummeted, particularly in Southern Europe. I use the 1994-2000 waves of the European Community Household panel for 13 European countries to study how varying institutional and economic indicators across countries account for differences in the timing of the first three births. Female unemployment has a negative impact, stronger after the mid-eighties, in transitions to all parities. Maternity benefits boost transitions to first and second births. Large government employment has a positive impact on first births while part-time availability is crucial for second and third birth transitions. Later, I add individual employment history to the original data to estimate transitions to second and third births. Women's public sector and/or part-time employment provide stability and flexibility, and, as a result, increase hazard to second and third births. Long-term unemployment spells have lasting negative effect. Spouse's education and job stability are critical in Spain and Italy.

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Presented in Session 105: International Responses to Low Fertility