How Does Men’s Involvement in the Family Affect Partners’ Fertility Plans and Preferences?

Anna Matysiak, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU), Vienna Institute of Demography/Austrian Academy of Sciences
Anna Rybinska, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Demographers have recently hypothesized that an increase in men’s family involvement (childcare and housework) should ease work-family tensions experienced by women and lead to higher fertility. This hypothesis triggered a series of empirical studies on the effects of partners’ division of labour on fertility, resulting in conflicting findings. One of the possible reasons for this inconsistency can be that an increase in men’s family involvement may have different effects on men’s and women’s fertility intentions. While an increase in men’s family involvement may weaken women’s opportunity costs of parenting and encourage them to have more children, it may increase men’s opportunity costs and lower men’s childbearing intentions. We thus study how the increase in partners’ time spent on childcare and housework affects men’s and women’s childbearing desires, expectations and intentions. To this end, we use panel data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey and estimate dyadic models for longitudinal data separately for couples with no, one, and two children. We employ within- and between-person decomposition in order to separate the effects of the change in the intrapersonal time spent on childcare and housework on the dependent variables from the interpersonal differences in family orientation and preferences. Our preliminary findings show that increases in the time spent on childcare lead to declines in men’s and women’s desires to have the next child, although the findings differ in their magnitude across parities. Furthermore, women’s involvement in household chores increases men’s willingness to have a third child. Contrary to expectations, we do not find any evidence that men’s involvement in the family has a potential to increase women’s fertility plans and preferences.

Presented in Session 88: Fertility Desires and Intentions