Fertility Intentions and Their Realization in Couples: Does the Division of Household Chores Matter?

Zuzanna Brzozowska, Vienna Institute of Demography
Isabella Buber-Ennser, Vienna Institute of Demography
Bernhard Riederer, Vienna Institute of Demography

The literature argues that women’s participation in labor market and men’s involvement in family work are of great importance for individual fertility decision making in contemporary Europe. Correspondingly, studies have repeatedly shown links between the division of family work and childbearing. Although most studies indicate that more gender equal distributions of labor increase childbearing probabilities, the empirical literature remains inconclusive. Results seem to vary depending on (a) the operationalization of family work (workload, division or subjective appraisals), (b) whether females or males (or both) are analyzed, and (c) whether different parities are considered (research usually focuses on the transition to the second child). These variations in the link between the division of family work, fertility intentions and their realization in couples have been rarely explored in detail.

The present paper aims at contributing additional knowledge to fill this gap. In particular, we want to discuss potential mechanisms behind the interplay between the division of family work and (further) childbearing. Data from the first two waves of the Gender and Generations Survey of four European countries (Austria, Hungary, France, and Poland) is employed to study the link between the division of family work and childbearing in couples. Our main interest is in the effect of the division of household chores and the satisfaction with this division on (a) fertility intentions and (b) their realization. We assume that (1) relationship satisfaction mediates effects of the division of work while (2) at the same time both, sex as well as parity moderate these effects. In addition, we also explore the role of breadwinner models (division of professional work within couples) and childcare. Results support our mediation hypothesis and emphasize the role of parity as a moderator. While the division of work is highly relevant for intentions, it is hardly relevant for their realization.

Presented in Session 66: Gendered Division of Domestic and Care Work