Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Influence of Parental Employment Status on Children's Labor Outcomes. Does the Gender of Parents and Children Matter?

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Influence of Parental Employment Status on Children's Labor Outcomes. Does the Gender of Parents and Children Matter?

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In Europe, more than 12.1 million young people (aged 15-29 years; EU27) were not in employment, education, or training (NEETs) in 2016. Being NEET has severe adverse consequences for the individual, society and the economy. For the individual, it can have a long-term scarring effect on labor force participation and future earnings, raising problems in old age in terms of securing a decent pension. But it can also lead to a wide range of other social and psychological disadvantages, such as lower levels of political interest and social engagement, mental and physical health problems, etc. The overall economic loss for the European Union (EU) due to the disengagement of young people from the labor market or education and training had been estimated to be about €153 billion in 2011, corresponding to 1.2% of EU GDP (Eurofound, 2012).

From a policy perspective, it is crucial to understand what the key risk factors are. In terms of individual characteristics, low education, belonging to certain ethnic minorities, and poor health conditions - all increase the probability of being NEET. These characteristics tend to be related to the family and its social background. The role of the family in shaping children's tastes for education and in developing their skills has been largely documented in the literature. But these effects can go beyond education, affecting directly young individuals' labor market outcomes. Various empirical analyses at the country level (mainly the US, the UK, Germany and few other European countries) have shown that children's unemployment or inactivity is closely related to their fathers' or mothers' employment status (see the next section for more details). But we know little about the extent to which these effects vary across European countries, and even less about the distinct role of fathers and mothers. Indeed, the literature on the intergenerational correlation between parents' and children's employment status usually focuses on the link either between fathers and sons or between mothers and daughters, and generally on single countries.

This paper analyses the extent to which parents' employment during children's adolescence (around 14 years of age) affect their children's probability of being NEET as young adults (around 30 years of age), across various European country groups. Our study exploits a harmonized dataset at the European level (the 2011 cross sectional data of the European Union Statistics on Living Conditions, EU-SILC), which contains specific information on parental educational and occupational characteristics for all individuals aged 25-60 when they were around 14. The contribution to the literature is threefold. First, we analyze the effect of mothers' and fathers' employment status on both their sons and daughters employment outcomes. This allows us to examine the father-daughter and mother-son relationships that have received little attention in the literature. Second, we show how these effects vary across different European country groups, which are characterized by distinct labor market institutions and welfare systems. Third, we consider also the effect of the mother-in-law's employment condition on the labor participation of young women living in couple.

The rest of the paper is structured as follows. Section 2 reviews the relevant literature. Section 3 presents the data and estimation methodology. Section 4 discusses the main empirical findings, and Section 5 concludes.

2.Literature Review

2.1Previous evidence about the intergenerational transmission of worklessness

The evidence on the intergenerational link between mothers' and daughters' labor market participation is quite robust. Daughters of working women are more likely to be in paid employment than daughters who have grown up with non-working mothers (Del Boca et al., 2000, for Italy; Farré and Vella, 2013, for the US). Similarly, various authors have documented an effect of fathers' unemployment on their sons' worklessness (O'Neill and Sweetman, 1998, and Macmillan, 2010, for the UK; Mader et al. …

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