Grandparents and women’s participation in the labor market

Paula Albuquerque, Technical University of Lisbon
José Passos, Technical University of Lisbon

The reconciliation of work and family life represents a challenge for most women. The different ways of combining work and childcare include part-time employment, the use of formal care and the use of informal care (which typically consists of care provided by grandparents). Informal childcare has, in fact, been the least studied of these alternatives. Many studies have confirmed the important role played by the availability and cost of formal childcare, as well as its public provision, in determining women’s participation in the labor market (Stier, Lewin-Epstein and Braun 2001; Uunk, Kalmijn and Muffels 2005; Marcos 2006; Connelly 1992; Connelly and Kimmel 2003; Del Boca 2002; Del Boca, Pasqua and Pronzato 2007). However, informal childcare still remains under-researched (Kalb 2009). In this paper, we investigate whether the care provided by grandparents has a measurable impact on the participation of mothers in the labor market. We use data for Southern European countries. Most of the data used are taken from the second round of the European Social Survey (ESS) – 2004/2005. The econometric model used to estimate the impact of the use of care by grandparents on the probability of a mother of young children to work is the switching probit. This modeling strategy is indicated in situations of suspected endogeneity when both the explained variable and the explanatory variable of interest are dummies. We find that a mother of a child up to six years of age has a higher probability of working if she lives in a region with a lower unemployment rate, lives with a partner, especially one with low income, has a smaller number of children, has a higher level of education and makes use of the help provided by a grandparent to take care of the youngest child.

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Presented in Session 14: Ageing and intergenerational relationships