Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Role of Attitudes towards Maternal Employment in the Relationship between Job Quality and Fertility Intentions

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Role of Attitudes towards Maternal Employment in the Relationship between Job Quality and Fertility Intentions

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In contrast to the Unit ed States, in some European countries, fertility has fallen below 1.5 births per woman. Family formation has been postponed to later ages, and childlessness rates have incr eased substantially (JohnsonHanks et al., 2012). Among demographers there is a consensus that low fertility has emerged dir ectly from fertility postponement and is mainly a consequence of changes in fertility timing (Kohler, Billari, & Ortega, 2002; Lutz, O'Neill, & Scherbov, 2004; Sobotka, 2004). Were postponement the only cause of fertility decline, such a decline would not persist, and a trend reversal would be expected. Indeed, most low-fertility European countries have recently experienced a reversal of fertility decline. Yet in all three German-speaking countries (Austria, Germany, and Switzerland), fertility has remained unchanged (Goldstein, Sobotka, & Jasilioniene, 2009; Sobotka & Zeman, 2011). Freijka & Sardon (2004, p. 376) estimated that women born in 1975 might reach completed fertility rates of 1.2-1.3 births by the end of their childbearing years in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Ther efor e, German-speaking countries are the only exception to the current reversal of fertility trends in Europe.

These developments make it crucial to understand intervening mechanisms other than demographic ones that can sustain such low total fertility rates. An emerging area of research focuses on the impact of housing conditions as mec ha nis ms for det er mining f er tility i nt ent ions. For example, Vignoli, Rinesi, & Mussino (2012) showed in a study using the Italian variant of the Gener a tions a nd G ender Survey, a clea r gra dient between t he fertility intentions of couples and the degree to which they feel secure about their housing situation. Home ownership represents one of the main sources of investment for family savings; it provides an indirect source of income (i.e. the imputed rent), it enables future and sustainable consumption (Dewilde & Raeymaeckers, 2008), and protects against risks of eviction (Mulder & Hooimeijer, 1999), thereby promoting the formation of childbearing intentions. Another important factor in the literature on fertility intentions are social network mechanisms. Social influence can help explain representations of parenthood and ideal family size (Bernardi, 2003), social learning mechanisms have been considered crucial to distinguish who forms childbearing intentions a nd puts t hem int o practice, while finally social interaction is important to fertility because relationships and informal support networks can complement the institutional provision of childcare (Bernardi & Rossier, 2009; Bernardi & Klärner, 2014). Researchers also derive fertilit y differentials from the design of family and employment policies to facilitate the reconciliation of work and family (Hoem, 2005; Kaufman & Bernhardt; Oláh & Bernhardt, 2008; Billingsley & Ferrarini, 2014).

Other scholars have emphasized the role of employment conditions on fertility (Blossfeld & Hofmeister, 2007; Blossfeld, Klijzing, Mills, & Kurz, 2005; Kreyenfeld, Andersson, & Pailhé, 2012; Sobotka, Skirbekk, & Philipov, 2011). Unemployment has been repeatedly related to low fertility, especially a mong men (Adser a, 2005; Pailhé & Solaz, 2012; Schmitt, 2012), a nd precarious work has been claimed to contribute to fertility postponement (Bernardi, Klaerner, & von der Lippe, 2008; Hanappi, Ryser, Bernardi, & Le Goff, 2012; Scherer, 2009; Steiber & Haas, 2009). Overall, findings suggest that the qua lity of a job matt ers in det ermining how easily par ents can sustain the financial burden of a child and combine work and family, and therefore contributes to explaining childbearing intentions (Begall & Mills, 2011; Del Bono et al., 2014; Cazzola et al. 2016).

Far less is known about the effects of gender attitudes. Gender attitudes ha ve been shown t o influ ence work and car e choic es, a s well a s fa mily planning (Rindfuss & Brewester, 1996; McQuillan et al. …

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