Globalization, Gender, and the Family

99 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2018

See all articles by Wolfgang Keller

Wolfgang Keller

University of Colorado; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Hale Utar

Bielefeld University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2018


This paper shows that globalization has far-reaching implications for the economy's fertility rate and family structure because they influence work-life balance. Employing population register data on new births, marriages, and divorces together with employer-employee linked data for Denmark, we show that lower labor market opportunities due to Chinese import competition lead to a shift towards family, with more parental leave taking and higher fertility as well as more marriages and fewer divorces. This pro-family, pro-child shift is driven largely by women, not men. Correspondingly, the negative earnings implications of the rising import competition are concentrated on women, and gender earnings inequality increases. We show that the choice of market versus family is a major determinant of worker adjustment costs to labor market shocks. While older workers respond to the shock rather similarly whether female or not, for young workers the fertility response takes away the adjustment advantage they typically have-if the worker is a woman. We find that the female biological clock-women have difficulties to conceive beyond their early forties-is central for the gender differential, rather than the composition of jobs and workplaces, as well as other potential causes.

Keywords: Divorce, Earnings Inequality, Fertility, Gender Gap, import competition, Marriage

JEL Classification: F16, F66, J12, J13, J16

Suggested Citation

Keller, Wolfgang and Utar, Hale, Globalization, Gender, and the Family (November 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13317. Available at SSRN:

Wolfgang Keller (Contact Author)

University of Colorado ( email )

Department of Economics
PO Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Hale Utar

Bielefeld University ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 25
Bielefeld, NRW 33615
+49 521 106 4842 (Phone)

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