The effect of unemployment on the realization of fertility intentions in France

Ariane Pailhé, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Arnaud Régnier-Loilier, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

This study analyses how the experience of unemployment has affected the realization of men's and women's fertility intentions in France. The analysis is focused on persons who participated in at least one of the two later waves of GGS (2008 and 2011) as well as the first (2005). The scope was limited to women who were below age 45 in the first wave and men who were below age 50, who were fertile and who in 2005 intended to have a child, in the subsequent three years or later. We estimated a semi-parametric model separately for men and women and for first and subsequent births. Our results show that the frequency of having children was lower among those who experienced an episode of unemployment. However, the effect of unemployment differed by sex and parity. Unemployment's negative effect on entry into parenthood was greater in women than in men, after controlling for conjugal status. For men, in contrast, the arrival of a first child was delayed most of all either by being a student or by a delayed entry into union—both of which could be consequences of unemployment. The logic of the arrival of a second child was considerably different. Having a second child is very frequent in France and decisions about it are made notably according to the desired spacing between children. Thus, going through a period of unemployment did not affect the realization of either women's or men's projects in this case. Insofar as the economic crisis has affected both the number of people who are unemployed and the amount of time that they spend in unemployment, it could thus lead to a delay in the timing of both first and second births, which could account for a portion of the recent drop in fertility.

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Presented in Session 24: Female employment around birth