Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Job Contract at Birth of the First Child as a Predictor of Women's Labor Market Attachment: Trajectory Analyses over 11 Years

Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Job Contract at Birth of the First Child as a Predictor of Women's Labor Market Attachment: Trajectory Analyses over 11 Years

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

Prior research has shown that working during pregnancy and being eligible for parental leave are related to stronger labor market attachment after birth (e.g., Brugiavini et al., 2013; Burgess et al., 2008; Fagan & Norman, 2012; Hoffert & Curtin, 2006). However, there is less research on the role of the employment contract prior to childbirth in later employment outcomes in the long term, and especially whether one has been working on a permanent or temporary basis (Baxter, 2009; Bonet et al., 2013; Bratti et al., 2005; Gutiérrez-Domènech, 2005; Saurel-Cubizolles et al., 1999). This is important as the right to keep a job after childbirth does not necessarily apply to temporary employees.

Nordic countries are often viewed as leaders in family-friendly policies, with a high female employment rate (see Datta Gupta et al., 2008). On the other hand, differences in labor market participation between men and women, and among subgroups of women, remain even here. The present study was set up to analyze patterns of labor market participation and their determinants after the birth of a woman's first child in one of the Nordic countries, Finland.

In contrast to the other Nordic countries, the Finnish system of family leave has been characterized as being among the least flexible, leading to relatively long periods out of the labor market (Datta Gupta et al., 2008; Rønsen & Sundström, 2002; see also Boje & Ejrnæs, 2012). In Finland, there are restrictions for taking family leave parttime, saving leave for later use, and working between leave periods (Salmi & Lammi-Taskula, 2014). In Sweden, for example, the days of parental leave can be taken flexibly full-time or part-time, and saved for later use until the child is 12 years old (Duvander et al., 2014). On the one hand, also in Finland, these periods out of the labor market are mainly temporary: the employment rate for mothers with children from 3 to 6 years old is nearly 80%, and the rate rises almost to the same level as that for fathers, 90%, when children grow older (Statistics Finland, 2013a). On the other hand, a large proportion of young women of childbearing age work temporarily, especially in the public sector (Lehto & Sutela, 2009), and almost 40% of mothers with a child under 1 year old caring for their children at home do not have a valid employment contract (Statistics Finland, 2013b). While the majority of mothers return to employment in a few years after child-birth, the effects of childbirth on employment might be worse among those with weaker labor market status before the childbirth-an association not visible in the average figures. The purpose of this study is to analyze the importance of the employment contract (none, temporary, or permanent) at the time of the first birth for mothers' labor market trajectory with a follow-up over 11 years.

2 background

2.1 Labor market and family policy context in Finland

In Finland, the family benefits that enable the integration of family life and participation in the labor market are relatively generous (see Tab. 1). There is a 4-month period of earnings-related maternity leave that is stipulated for the mother; about 1 month before, and 3 months after childbirth. The earnings-related parental leave of 6 months has to be taken after the maternity leave, and can be divided between the parents as they wish. After parental leave, when the child is about 9 months, either one of the parents can take home care leave until the child's third birthday. For fathers, there is a paternity leave of 9 weeks that can be taken until the child turns 2 years old. After the parental leave, public childcare (or a benefit for private childcare) is available to all families until the child goes to school (see Salmi & Lammi-Taskula, 2014). In practice, mothers use most of the family leave that could be divided between parents. Mothers are continuously on leave on average 20 months per one child (including a 2 month's break at maximum) (Haataja & Juutilainen, 2014: 28-29). …

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