Academic journal article Demographic Research

Grandparenting and Mothers' Labour Force Participation: A Comparative Analysis Using the Generations and Gender Survey

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Grandparenting and Mothers' Labour Force Participation: A Comparative Analysis Using the Generations and Gender Survey

Article excerpt

Abstract

BACKGROUND

It is well known that the provision of public childcare plays an important role for women labour force participation and its availability varies tremendously across countries. In many countries, informal childcare is also important and typically provided by the grandparents, but its role on mothers' employment is not yet well understood. Understanding the relationship between labour supply decisions and grandparental childcare is complex. While the provision of grandparental childcare is clearly a function of the social and institutional context of a country, it also depends on family preferences, which are typically unobserved in surveys.

OBJECTIVE

We analyze the role of informal childcare provided by grandparents on mothers' labour force participation keeping unobserved preferences into account.

METHODS

Bivariate probit models with instrumental variables are estimated on data from seven countries (Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Russia and The Netherlands) drawn from the Generations and Gender Survey.

RESULTS

We find that only in some countries mothers' employment is positively and significantly associated with grandparents providing childcare. In other countries, once we control for unobserved preferences, we do not find this effect.

CONCLUSIONS

The role of grandparents is an important element to reconcile work and family for women in some countries. Our results show the importance of considering family preferences and country differences when studying the relationship between grandparental childcare and mothers' labour supply.

COMMENTS

Our results are consistent with previous research on this topic. However, differently from previous studies, we conduct separate analyses by country and show that the effect of grandparental childcare varies considerably. The fact that we also include in the analyses Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia and Georgia is an important novelty as there are no studies on this issue for these countries.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

One of the most remarkable transformations of Western societies in recent decades is the rise in female labour force participation (Vlasblom 2004). Every indication suggests that female labour force participation is here to stay, and most likely it will increase in the years to come. Perhaps the most important change female employment entails is a shiftin the gender balance in households and societies, as the traditional breadwinner model is rapidly disappearing in Western countries (McDonald 2000). The rise in female employment is also vitally important for the sustainability of social protection systems, especially in the context of rapid population ageing (Pagani and Marenzi 2008). There is consequently considerable interest in understanding the role of female labour force participation in Western societies.

Rising participation rates are closely intertwined with demographic behaviour. In some countries, especially where state welfare and support is weaker, increasing female labour force participation is accompanied by low fertility rates. In contrast, in those countries where fertility has remained high we also find stronger state support towards childcare (Billari and Kohler 2004; McDonald 2000). Importantly, these are the countries where female labour force participation is the highest. Availability of public childcare varies tremendously between countries (Rindfuss and Brauner-Otto 2008) and the provision of public childcare clearly plays an important role. That said, in many countries informal childcare is also important and typically provided by grandparents, but its pattern and role in mothers' employment is not well understood.

The advancement of societies has involved substantial changes in family life and its organization, of which demographic transformations have been an important driver. …

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