Fertility preferences of employed mothers in Italy: does the choice of public versus private sector matter in shaping the total demand for children?

Laura Cavalli, Università degli Studi di Verona

This work aims at understanding whether, and the extent to which, the intention of having other children is influenced by aspects related to the employment sector chosen by mothers who already have one child less than 2 years old. Using Italian data from the Birth Sample Survey conducted by the Italian National Statistical Institute (ISTAT) in 2005, this work models new mothers’ preferences for family formation and for the sector of employment, taking into account the potential endogeneity of the latter. Working in the public sector, which benefits from stronger employment protection, tends to influence the desired and the realized fertility of working mothers. This could be due to the existence of a lower level of wage discrimination compared to the private sector, to the higher level of job security and to the existence of family friendly policies. However, the choice of the working sector could be endogenous. In fact, once the selection effect is taken into account and the choice of working sector and the desired fertility are modelled together, the correlation among unobservable women’s characteristics affecting the two choices is found to be negative: women who desire more children seem to be less likely to self-select into the public sector. This last finding could be the result of more productive women’s working strategies: given that they are those more work oriented (and less family-oriented), they tend to enter into the public sector, a less gender discriminated sector.

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Presented in Session 40: Motherhood and employment