Academic journal article Demographic Research

The Effect of Education on Second Births in Hungary: A Test of the Time-Squeeze, Self-Selection, and Partner-Effect Hypotheses

Academic journal article Demographic Research

The Effect of Education on Second Births in Hungary: A Test of the Time-Squeeze, Self-Selection, and Partner-Effect Hypotheses

Article excerpt

Abstract

BACKGROUND

In recent years, several studies have reported a positive effect of women's education on the transition to second births. This finding contradicts the economic theory of fertility. Three explanations were proposed: the selection, the time-squeeze, and the partner effect hypotheses.

OBJECTIVE

We propose a modification of the economic theory to account for the positive educational gradient with regard to second births. We empirically examine the effect of women's education on the timing of second births.

METHODS

We use a sample of women born between 1946 and 1983 from all three waves of the Hungarian Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) data. We estimate lognormal survival models of the timing of second births.

RESULTS

We find that female education reduces the waiting time to second conception in Hungary. The results remain robust after controlling for sample selection and cannot be explained away in terms of time-squeeze and the partner's education.

CONCLUSIONS

We conclude that the relationship between women's education and spacing behavior might be a causal one.

1. Introduction

In recent years, several studies have examined the relationship between education and the transition to second births (Kreyenfeld 2002; Gerster et al. 2007; Kravdal 2001; 2007; Klesment and Puur 2010; Muresan and Hoem 2010; Billingsley 2011). In most of these studies, women's education was found to have a significant positive effect on the transition to second births. This finding contradicts the economic theory of fertility, which argues that both quantum and tempo fertility is negatively related to education. The negative quantum effect arises because the shadow price of raising (high-quality) children is relatively high for educated women (Becker and Lewis 1973; Jones, Schoonbroodt, and Tertilt 2008). The negative tempo effect is due to the fact that wages rise with experience and postponement of childbearing minimizes the lifetime opportunity costs of career interruption (Mincer and Polachek 1974; Happel, Hill, and Low 1984; Montgomery and Trussel 1986; Taniguchi 1999).

In order to account for the surprising positive effect of female education on the transition to second births, three explanations were proposed (Kreyenfeld 2002). The selection effect hypothesis states that women with a strong unobserved preference for children are over-represented among those who postpone the first birth, and this unobserved characteristic is responsible for the fast transition to second birth. The time-squeeze hypothesis argues that women who postpone the first birth are closer to the end of their reproductive span, which reduces the waiting time to the second birth. Finally, the partner effect hypothesis states that the positive effect of family income on childbearing, known as the income effect, suppresses the opposite effect of the shadow price of raising high-quality children (Becker and Lewis 1973; Jones, Schoonbroodt, and Tertilt 2008). The argument is supplemented with the empirically realistic assumption that highly educated women tend to marry (or live with) educated men, a phenomenon known as educational homogamy or assortative mating (Becker 1981; Kalmijn 1998). If wages rise with experience, especially among educated men, the postponement of the first child minimizes not only the lifetime foregone earnings of women but also helps the educated partner reach a high income level, reducing the cost of raising high-quality children.

The objective of this paper is to describe and explain the relationship between education and the transition to second birth in Hungary. Our research questions are: (1) Do women with higher education space births closer together? (2) Can the relationship between education and spacing of births be explained in terms of self-selection, time-squeeze, or the partner's education? The relevance of the second question is related to the fact that while the selection, the time-squeeze, and the partner effect hypotheses assume that the relationship between education and spacing of births is a spurious one, there is some evidence (Gerster et al. …

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