Effects of Availability and Uptake of (in)Formal Childcare on Second Birth Hazards in Belgium, 2000-2005

Jonas Wood, University of Antwerp
Karel Neels, University of Antwerp

The uptake of formal and informal childcare arrangements has been associated with a variety of factors related to both individual and household characteristics (age, household composition, education and labour market position of both partners,…) which affect the demand for (in)formal arrangements, as well as supply-side characteristics of both formal arrangements (cost, availability, and quality of local childcare arrangements) and informal arrangements (potential for informal care through presence of – predominantly maternal – kin, health status of potential caregivers as well as educational level and labour market position of potential caregivers). Although adequately controlling for population heterogeneity and selectivity in the uptake of formal childcare have been identified as major concerns when assessing the effect of family policies on fertility, the existing empirical literature on uptake of (in)formal childcare arrangements has typically not been able to simultaneously control for both demand-side characteristics and supply-side characteristics of formal and informal childcare at the neighbourhood level. Using linked Belgian census data from the 1991 and 2001 censuses in tandem with longitudinal microdata from the national register spanning the period 2000-2006, this papers follows young adults for a 15-year period as they move from out of the parental household and set up independent households to model uptake of (in)formal childcare arrangements in 2001 and its effects on parity progression in 2001-2006 controlling for individual and household-level labour market opportunities, proximity and characteristics of close kin as well as time varying contextual data on availability and characteristics of formal childcare arrangements at the municipality level.

INTRODUCTION

The uptake of (in)formal childcarearrangements is associated with a variety of factors related to individual andhousehold characteristics (age, household composition, education and labourmarket position of both partners) which affect the demand for (in)formalarrangements, as well as supply-side characteristics of both formalarrangements (cost, availability, and quality of local childcare arrangements)and informal arrangements (potential for informal care through presence of kin,health status of potential caregivers and educational level/labour marketposition of potential caregivers). Although adequately controlling forpopulation heterogeneity and selectivity in the uptake of formal childcare havebeen identified as major concerns when assessing the effect of family policieson fertility (Gauthier, 2007; Neyer & Andersson, 2008), the existing empirical literature on uptake of (in)formalchildcare arrangements has typically not been able to simultaneously controlfor both demand-side characteristics and supply-side characteristics of (in)formalchildcare at the neighborhood level. The empirical literature, however, showsstrong socio-economic gradients by level of education, household income andmigration background in the uptake of family policies (Ghysels & Van Lancker, 2009;Ghysels & Vercammen, 2012; Neels & De Wachter, 2010; Neels & Theunynck, 2012; Storms, 1995).Controlling for potentially selective uptake is therefore key in evaluating theeffects of family policies on fertility outcomes (Angrist & Pischke, 2009).

DESIGN & METHODS

Using linked Belgian census datafrom the 1991 and 2001 censuses in tandem with longitudinal microdata from thenational register spanning the period 2000-2006, this papers follows n=218.853 womenwho resided in the parental home at the time of the 1991 census (March 1st,1991) and who had their first child between January 1st 1999 andDecember 31st 2000. As these children are aged 9 months to two yearsand 9 months at the time of the 2001 census (October 1st, 2001) andhave typically not yet enrolled in preschool, information on uptake of (in)formalchildcare arrangements available in the 2001 census is used to draw up atypology of childcare arrangements distinguishing four types (no formal orinformal care arrangements, only informal care arrangements, only formal carearrangements versus a combination of formal and informal care arrangements).Subsequently, late entry discrete-time hazard models were estimated to gauge theeffect of care arrangements on second birth hazards between January 1st2002 and December 31st 2005 controlling for i) age of the firstchild (quadratic effect, time-varying), ii) age of the mother at the birth ofher first child (time-constant), iii) educational level of the mother (ISCED in5 levels), iv) migration status of the mother (Belgian, Southern EU, Other EU,Turkish/Moroccan, Other),v) labour market opportunities of the mother(predicted probability of full-time employment given age, educational level andlocal labour market conditions), v) formal childcare availability at themunicipality level (time-varying), vi) potential supply of informal childcare(self-reported health and employment status of the grandparents recorded in the2001 census).

RESULTS

Consistent with the literature theresults show that higher the odds of using formal childcare increase significantlywith the educational level of the mother (Figure 1), even when controlling forage of the mother at the birth of her first child, educational level andmigration background of the mother (Model 1), additionally controlling foravailability of childcare at the municipality level (Model 2), additionallycontrolling for employment opportunities of the mother (Model 3) andadditionally controlling for health and employment status of the grandmother (Model4). With respect to second birth hazards, access to both formal and informalchildcare strategies significantly increase the hazards of having a second child,although the effect of access to formal childcare arrangements on second birthhazards is more articulated (Figure 2). Additional sensitivity analyses (notshown) show that the effect of formal childcare uptake on second birth hazardsvaries significantly by both level of education and migration background of themother, with access to formal childcare arrangements being more important for familyformation of higher educated women and women of Belgian origin.

FIGURES

Figure 1 Uptake offormal childcare arrangements (odds-ratios) by level of education of themother, controlling for socio-demographic characteristics and employmentopportunities of the mother as well as supply of (in)formal care.

 

 

Model 1

Age at first birth (quadratic), educational level, migration background

Model 2

...controlling for childcare coverage [exp(b)=1,026***]

Model 3

...controlling for employment opportunities [exp(b)=1,116 ns]

Model 4

…controlling for working status of mother  [exp(b)=1,773***]

Figure 2 Effect ofchildcare strategies (odds-ratios) on second birth hazards, controlling forsocio-demographic characteristics of the mother (Model 1), controlling forsocio-demographic characteristics and employment opportunities of the mother aswell as supply of (in)formal care.

 

Model 1

Age at first birth (quadratic), Time late entry, Education, Origin group

Model 2

…controlling for childcare coverage [exp(b)=1,003***]

Model 3

…controlling for employment opportunities [exp(b)=,848**]

Model 4

…controlling for mother''s work [exp(b)=,959**], health [exp(b)=1,06**] and disability           

   status [exp(b)=,919***]

 

Presented in Session 1137: Fertility