Family-friendly working conditions and childbearing: a capability approach to fertility behaviour among young adult women in Sweden

Susanne Fahlén, Stockholm University

Work schedule and flexibility has become an important factor regarding work-family reconciliation and previous studies have established that workplace practices in terms of unsocial work hours, overtime and flexibility influence workers’ work-family compatibility in terms of role conflict. To what extent working conditions may influence childbearing behaviour, and the timing of birth, is less studied. This study addresses the impact of family-friendly working conditions and individual resources, on young adult women’s capabilities to have children in Sweden, and whether these factors have different impact on childless women’s and mothers’ childbearing behaviour. The conceptual framework is inspired by the Capability Approach, which can deepen our understanding of how institutional context, work-place practices, and individual life situation shape people’s capabilities to be both earners and carers. Analysing data extracted from the Swedish panel survey on Family and Working Life among Young Adults in the 21st century (YAPS), the study finds that especially the transition to the second child is associated with family-friendly working condition, while the partner’s family-friendly working condition is associated with the transition to the first and the second births. The analyses also reveal that family-friendly working condition is most salient for the less educated and low income childless women’s transition to motherhood, and for the lowly educated mother’s second birth.

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Presented in Session 3: Employment, work-family balance and fertility