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The effect of working hours flexibility on fertility: a comparative analysis of selected European countries
Institutional flexibility concerning hours-schedule varies much between different European countries. Some countries, such as the mediterranean ones, show a very rigid working hours schedule while others, such as the Netherlands, Ireland or the United Kingdom, show a very flexible labour market concerning working hours. We want to assess the importance of such flexibility for female fertility decision for different european countries from a comparative prospective. Hence, we take the countries mentioned above as an example of the use of flexible hours and on the other hand, we take Spain and Italy as examples of the meditarranean countries. Given that the use of flexible work is endogenous for fertility, we estimate simultaneously the decision of having a child and the determinants of making use of the flexible working hours schedule in order to control for the correlation of unobserved determinants in both decisions. From such estimation, we compute the effect of part-time for the decision to have a child and compare the results for the different countries under analysis. Microeconomic models of time allocation in the household predict that increases in the wage rates of females should lead to increases in female labour force participation rates as well as decrases in fertility rates, given that increases in wages and education for women increase the opportunity costs of allocating time in home production (Mincer (1962), Becker (1965)). These phenomena have been observed in almost all industrialized countries during the sixties. However, this theory cannot explain the stylized fact observed in some OECD countries in the last decade, ie, a positive cross-country correlation between fertility and participation rates (see graph 1). . Moreover, female participation rate is positively correlated with the share of part-time employment in most OECD countries . These two facts are suggesting that flexibility in the hours schedule is to be taken into account when trying to understand the underpinnings of the female decisions concerning fertility, given the positive corrrelation between fertility rates and part-time rates (see graph 1). The reconciliation of work and family life is currently an issue of great concern among European Countries. Since 1997, one of the initiatives of the Council of the European Union and the Ministers for Employment and Social Policy has been to reconcile work and family life (Resolution December 15, 1997, Resolution June, 6, 2000). The aim of this paper is to examine the empirical relationship between flexibility of employment and fertility. In particular, the measure of employment flexibility that we concentrate on is working hours flexibility (part-time). We want to assess from a comparative analysis of different European Countries up to which extent the possibility to access to a flexible working hours schedule is an important determinant for the decision concerning fertility. Given the endogeneity of part-time work for fertility, we will estimate both decisions simultaneously.
Ariza, Alfredo, de la Rica, Sara, Ugidos, Arantza (2003) 'The effect of working hours flexibility on fertility: a comparative analysis of selected European countries', EPUNet-2003 Conference: 3-5 July 2003, Colchester, UK
Alfredo Ariza, Sara De la Rica, Arantza Ugidos
Countries included
Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland
ECHP Waves
1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
Institutions Involved
Uni. del Pais Vasco, Bilbao, Spain
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