Gender-Specific Effects of Unemployment on Family Formation: A Cross-National Perspective

74 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2008 Last revised: 2 Jul 2009

See all articles by Christian Schmitt

Christian Schmitt

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - Longitudinal Data and Microanalysis

Date Written: September 1, 2008

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of unemployment on the propensity to start a family. Unemployment is accompanied by bad occupational prospects and impending economic deprivation, placing the well-being of a future family at risk. I analyze unemployment at the intersection of state-dependence and the reduced opportunity costs of parenthood, distinguishing between men and women across a set of welfare states. Using micro-data from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP), I apply event history methods to analyze longitudinal samples of first-birth transitions in France, Finland, Germany, and the UK (1994-2001). The results highlight spurious negative effects of unemployment on family formation among men, which can be attributed to the lack of breadwinner capabilities in the inability to financially support a family. Women, in contrast, show positive effects of unemployment on the propensity to have a first child in all countries except France. These effects prevail even after controlling for labour market and income-related factors. The findings are pronounced in Germany and the UK where work-family conflicts are the cause of high opportunity costs of motherhood, and the gender-specific division of labour is still highly traditional. Particularly among women with a moderate and low level of education, unemployment clearly increases the likelihood to have a first child.

Keywords: family formation, fertility, unemployment, cross-national comparison

Suggested Citation

Schmitt, Christian, Gender-Specific Effects of Unemployment on Family Formation: A Cross-National Perspective (September 1, 2008). SOEPpaper No. 127; DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 841. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1276149 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1276149

Christian Schmitt (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - Longitudinal Data and Microanalysis ( email )

Mohrenstra├če 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
165
Abstract Views
2,054
rank
178,233
PlumX Metrics