The Influence of Family Policies in 21 Countries on Women´s Childbearing: A Longitudinal Micro-Data Analysis

Sunnee Billingsley, Stockholm University
Katharina Wesolowski, Stockholm University
Gerda Neyer, Stockholm University, Demography Unit
Tommy Ferrarini, Stockholm University

This study analyzes if and how family policies are related to women’s first and second child transitions in 21 wealthy countries. We adapt the social investment approach developed in welfare state research as a framework to understand the linkages between different family policy orientations and fertility outcomes. We distinguish between investment-oriented or earner-carer oriented family policies and traditional, protection-oriented family policies. Empirically, our family policy indicators vary over time and reflect the generosity of earner-carer support and traditional-family support in each country at different time points. Fertility histories are provided by harmonized individual level data. We trace how the institutional set-up of family policies at one time-point is related to women´s childbearing in a few subsequent years, controlling for time-constant unobserved heterogeneity at the country level and individual-level factors. Our results show that the generosity of both types of family policy is correlated with the postponement of first births. Earner-carer support leads to postponement among the youngest women while traditional-family support is correlated with postponement among both younger and older women. Both types of family support are linked to earlier first births among lower educated women, while traditional-family support is also linked to postponement among women at older ages and women still in education. In relation to the second birth transition, earner-carer support is positively correlated with its timing or occurrence and this does not vary across women according to their educational attainment. Traditional-family support is not linked to variation in when or whether a second child is born.

Keywords: family policy, earner-carer support, traditional-family support, subsequent childbearing, multilevel analysis

Presented in Session 1156: Fertility