When Work Matters for Family Planning: Evidence from the Austrian Generations and Gender Survey

Friday, June 24, 2016: 2:30 PM-4:00 PM
832 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Doris Christine Hanappi, University Lausanne / University Geneva; UC Berkeley, Demography Department, Berkeley, CA
Isabella Buber-Ennser, Vienna Institute of Demography, Vienna, Austria
The growth of job insecurity since the 1970s has emerged as a core to contemporary concern among family researchers, social demographers and sociologists. In contrast to the relative security that characterized the three decades following World War II, insecure work represents a global challenge with wide-ranging demographic consequences. This article seeks a better understanding of stable low fertility rates in Western advanced societies. It seeks to identify the factors leading to high self-reported work centrality for the decision to have a child in a first step, and work-related obstacles for the realization of fertility intentions in a second step. The analysis estimates the direct impact of perceived job insecurity on the corresponding behavior: having an intended child. The theoretical background draws on the inclusion of competing attitudes in the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen & Klobas, 2013) due to Barber (Barber, 2001; Barber & Axinn, 2005). We expand Barber’s application of her theory of competing attitudes, by analyzing the effect of self-reported work centrality on the decision to have a child, the transition to parenthood and subsequent childbearing. The empirical analysis rests on data from the Generations and Gender Survey, which for the first time has two waves available for Austria. The focus is explicitly on short-term intentions, defined with respect to having a child within the next 3 years.

The main findings indicate that work is mainly central to the decision to have a child when respondents are not satisfied with job security, and potentially hampers the construction of childbearing intentions. In the Austrian context, the dissatisfaction with job security by itself is less relevant for the construction of childbearing intentions, but impedes their fulfillment. These inferences indicate that to better understand fertility intentions and subsequent childbearing it might be valuable to research for explanatory variables based on centrality regarding work and potentially also family when studying the intention construction while focusing on external obstacles to study fulfillment. These findings on the diverse mechanisms during individual decision-making can be indicative for the study of other decision-making processes within the family and at the workplace, and may provide some guidance for family and labor market policies.