The relationship between fertility and female labor supply is a complex one. For a long time, Norway had high levels of both, compared to other OECD countries. However, over the last decade, fertility in Norway has declined steadily and with such speed that it now lies below the EU average. The recent developments shows that high fertility can not be taken as given in the Nordic countries.
For most families, there is a conflict between time and income in the decision to have children. Parents(-to-be) need both income to support their children and time to care for them. How are family life and fertility intentions affected when most careers are attainable also to women, and when expectations of involved parenting extend also to men? How does developments in the labor market and changes in family policy affect fertility?
In the first part of the project, we will investigate how fertility decisions are affected by recent developments in the labor market, such as changes in the flexibility of work due to technological changes and changes in job security due to an increasing use of alternative work forms in the labor market (e.g. temporary contracts, self-employment etc). In the second part of the project, we will do a survey about fertility preferences and the perceived costs of childbearing. The survey will build on previous surveys, enabling us to track the development in fertility preferences over time. We will also investigate how the perceived and actual costs of childbearing affect fertility choices, looking especially at the role of career costs and health costs. In the last part of the project, we will use register data to look at historical developments in the relationship between men’s and women’s work and fertility from 1967 up until today, and time-use surveys to analyse the developments in how parents spend their time. Last, we will make a meta-analysis of the literature on the effects of public policy on fertility choices.
This project studies the relationship between men’s and women’s work and their fertility decisions. Our point of departure is the potential work-family conflict: A couple that has children need both income to support the child and time to care for it. Over the last decades, women’s education levels and full-time labor force participation have grown, as have expectations of active fathering. The work-family conflict is thus heightened for both men and women.
For a long time, Norway had high levels of both female labour supply and fertility. However, over the last decade, fertility in Norway has declined steadily and with such speed that it now lies below the EU average. These developments raise the question of whether the decline in fertility is a result of the growth in female labour supply – in terms of both employment and number of hours worked – or whether it results from other developments, such as changing norms and preferences, changes in time use and parenting styles, or changing health conditions.
In this project, we investigate the questions above from three different angles. First, we use register and survey data to investigate the importance of different aspects of work for fertility decisions; the effect of work time flexibility, part-time work, job security, job loss and economic uncertainty. Second, we investigate the potential additional costs to childbearing and their potential for limiting fertility in their own turn. We investigate how children affects health, and develop a secular survey module that will track the development in fertility preferences and its main perceived drivers over time, thereby providing important insights into how preferences for childbearing and perceptions of its cost evolve. Third, we look at the historical trends in how time and earnings responsibility is divided between parents and we assess the effects of various policies on fertility in a meta-analysis.