Minding the downside of market flexibilization. Does precarious work affect short-term fertility intentions and their realization?

Doris Hanappi, Université de Lausanne
Valérie-Anne Ryser, Université de Lausanne
Jean-Marie Le Goff, Université de Lausanne
Laura Bernardi, Université de Lausanne

This paper looks at the relation between precarious work and short-term fertility intentions as demographic response to economic turbulence and market flexibilization. Rational choice explanations of low fertility in industrialized countries often state that low fertility is the outcome of high labor market uncertainty. Although the empirical evidence that modern societies do face the downsides of market flexibilisation is strong, three relevant issues from a life course and fertility perspective have not received much attention so far. First, gender-specific differences in the realizations of fertility intentions as a consequence of precarious work have been largely ignored. Second, while several studies have shown the impact of job instability, job insecurity, and income, empirical evidence on the effects of job quality is limited. Third, the relationship between objective and perceived precariousness in low-fertility societies remains unclear. This is particularly true for gender-differences in the behavioral responses to precarious work. Even though precarious work is less dramatic than unemployment, it substantially affects people’s life planning, and in particular, reproductive decision-making. We examine these downsides in two steps. First, the realization of fertility intentions is expected to depend on gender-specific effects of objective and perceived job insecurity and control over work. Second, a better, more stable and satisfying financial situation of households is expected to lead to a higher likelihood of positive fertility intentions and their realization. Building subjective and objective indicators of precarious work, we test these hypotheses with a representative sample of the Swiss population aged between 19-43, who took part in the waves 2002 and 2009 of the Swiss Household Panel.

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Presented in Session 35: Economic uncertainty and fertility