Job-related spatial mobility and its relation to family development in Europe: evidence from a cross-sectional study in six European countries

Norbert F. Schneider, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
Heiko Rüger, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
Silvia Ruppenthal, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany

While mobility and mobile lifestyles have become highly valued traits within the labour market and job-related spatial mobility, like daily long-distance commuting or frequent business travel, has become a widespread phenomenon in contemporary European societies, various studies also point to the ambivalent consequences of increased mobility. It can be hypothesised that intensified mobility requirements have effects on family development and on family life and they aggravate the compatibility of family and professional life – especially for women. The study is based on a cross-sectional survey (n=7220) carried out among persons aged 25 to 54 years in six European countries (France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Belgium, and Switzerland) during summer 2007. CATI technique was conducted except in Poland where CAPI technique promised superior random sampling. In distinction from traditional mobility research, which is mainly focussed on cross-border migration, a broader concept of mobility has been developed. Here, we distinguished between present and former mobility experiences and between recurring (e.g., weekend commuting) and residential (e.g., relocation) types of mobility. Family development is operationalised by three indicators: likelihood of childlessness, number of children and age at first birth. Multivariate binary-logistic and OLS regressions were performed differentiated by sex and focused on 37-to-44-year-olds. Coefficients were adjusted for educational level (ISCED), age, survey-country, number of employers during professional career and full-time vs. part-time employment. Reference group were persons working for pay without any experiences with mobility. Results show clear differences between men and women concerning the interrelationship between mobility and family development. While there are no or only weak effects in the case of men, mobility is associated with a postponement and with fewer children in the case of women. Mobility seems to be an important factor for the explanation of reproductive behaviour in modern societies and should receive more attention in future research on fertility.

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Presented in Session 44: Internal migration and fertility