Labour Force Participation, Homogamy, Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Independence As Factors of Family Formation in a Bijuralist Country

Benoît Laplante, Institut national de la recherche scientifique
Ana Fostik, McGill University

We look at the relationship between gender equality and women’s economic independence, on the one hand, and childbearing on the other, in a country where the two main European legal traditions coexist. Using Canadian census data, the own-children method and Poisson regression, we compare French-speaking Quebeckers, who live in a jurisdiction where private law is based on French civil law, and English-speaking Ontarians, whose private law is based on English common law, estimating the relationship between gender equality and women’s economic independence on fertility while taking into account whether there is educational homogamy between the spouses, labour force participation and a series of other variables known to be related with childbearing. We use three different measurements of the economic independence of the woman in the couple and of equality within the couple: 1) the class of worker of the woman, 2) the share of her income in the couple’s income in couples where the woman is in the labour force and 3) the fertility function by the combined levels of education of both partners for all couples. Results show that the class of worker, used as a proxy of the level of protection by the job, has no effect on childbearing. However, the share of the woman’s income has either no effect or a negative one, the size of the effect being larger among unmarried couples. Furthermore, the evolution of the fertility curves across censuses show that fertility is increasing among highly educated homogamous couples. Our results strongly suggest that any policy intended at fostering fertility should focus on the relation between employed women’s income and the decision to have a child, more so in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, as more women live in consensual union in Quebec than in the rest of Canada.

Presented in Session 1097: Families and Households