Work-related overnight travel and family formation. Disentangling the interplay between spatial mobility and parenthood using panel data

Thomas Skora, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

With labour markets changing in the context of globalisation there is an increasing need for highly qualified employees engaging in projects at changing places of work. As a consequence, work-related overnight travel has increased considerably in the past few decades. Previous studies have shown both positive and negative aspects of work-related travel for individuals and families. However, given the persistence of traditional gender norms in both family and work domains, there is a concern that work-related travel may conflict with family formation, in particular for women. Actually, cross-sectional studies show a strong negative association between work-related travel and parenthood only for women. The interpretation of these findings is however limited as cross-sectional data do not allow controlling for the causal direction of this correlation. Up to now, longitudinal studies on this field of research are lacking. Applying longitudinal data of the 2008-launched German Family Panel (“pairfam”), the presented paper aims to fill this gap by assessing the correlation between work-related overnight travel and parenthood with respect to two distinct causal directions. The paper addresses the following research questions: (i) Does the birth of a first child affect the probability of traveling for work-related reason? (ii) Does work-related travel affect the transition to first parenthood? (iii) Are there differences by gender? Fixed-effects estimates as well as results of discrete-time event history analyses will be presented. Preliminary results reveal that not only women but also men reduce the extent of work travel after the birth of a first child. The effects of work-related travel on the transition to first parenthood are found to differ by gender as well as by life stage.

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 Presented in Session 105. Family development