Public employment and reproductive decisions in Spain

Teresa Martin Garcia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Teresa Castro Martin, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

The increasing levels of educational attainment and labour participation among the youngest generations are frequently used by the defenders of the economic theory of the family as main factors in the rise in delayed marriages, the decline in fertility and the emergence of childfree lifestyles. However, an increasing number of studies cast doubt on the assumption that a woman’s accumulation of human capital and labour participation per se must result in lower fertility. Empirical evidence suggests that women “choose” between motherhood and paid employment, as Hakim argues, but that they are also highly constrained in their choices. The (un)feasibility of family-work reconciliation issue is crucial in the decision. This paper investigates to what extent public employment affects women’s reproductive behaviour in Spain. It specifically explores whether and how public sector positions improve women’s chances of combining a career with childbearing, implying a higher final fertility as reported in other contexts. Event-history analyses are applied to retrospective reproductive and work biographies from the Spanish Fertility Survey (CIS 2006), which has a sample size of 9,737 women over 15 years of age. Preliminary results show that there are differences in women’s fertility according to their occupational position and confirm that women employed in the public sector show a specific advantage in harmonizing work and motherhood in Spain. This finding is consistent with the idea that to study the impact of women’s labour force participation on fertility, one must take into account not only a woman’s human capital, but also her employment conditions at the workplace. This effect is particularly strong in Spain, characterized by a weak welfare state, a social organization that relies heavily on strong family ties, and a low investment in public policies directed to enhance family wellbeing or to facilitate the combination of work and family responsibilities.

Presented in Session 66: Work-family balance in Europe