The impact of earnings on first birth rate among Norwegian men
Rannveig Kaldager, Statistics Norway
Previous research on socioeconomic determinants of male fertility has found a positive impact of educational attainment on first birth rate. Both higher earnings potential and more gender egalitarian attitudes are expected to make men with higher educational attainment more attractive as partners and thus more likely to have a first child. To distinguish the impact of earnings potential from the impact of attitudes and values, this study uses observed annual earnings as a proxy for earnings potential. Hazard regressions are estimated on highly accurate data from the Norwegian population registers, covering all men born 1955-1988 who are at risk of having a first child in the period 1975-2009. Results show that the yearly first birth rate, net of controls, increases monotonously with earnings quintile. Being in the 5th earnings quintile more than doubles yearly first birth rate compared to being in the 1st earnings quintile, net of controls. The estimates for educational attainment decrease substantially when observed annual earnings are included in the model, indicating that earnings potential at least partly explains the impact of educational attainment on first birth rates. Throughout the period of study, the labour force participation of Norwegian mothers increased substantially, and Norwegian fathers increasingly took part in care work. The results indicate that the impact of earnings on first birth rate is stable throughout the observation period. In spite of gender de-specialisation in the family, selection on earnings potential into fatherhood remains stable.