Volume 32 - Article 23 | Pages 691–722  

On the age-specific correlation between fertility and female employment: Heterogeneity over space and time in OECD countries

By Uta Brehm, Henriette Engelhardt


Background: Though there has been profound research on the curious change in correlation between total fertility rate (TFR) and female labor force participation (FLP) in the mid-1980s, aspects of the compositional character of age-specific effects and the nature of countries’ heterogeneity have been neglected.

Objective: The present paper aims to contribute to filling this gap by analyzing annual total fertility rates and their equivalents for four age groups between 20 and 39 years as well as the respective lagged FLP from 17 OECD countries between 1985 and 2010.

Methods: Random Intercept and Random Coefficient Models are applied, allowing us to assess both effects and country heterogeneity in slopes and intercepts.

Results: The analyses reveal that the development of the correlation between FLP and TFR after 1985 is comprised of very different relations between age-specific fertility and labor participation. The youngest group’s situation is determined by a decrease in both fertility and FLP, while countries’ effects differ increasingly. The oldest women’s fertility decisions seem to be detached from labor market influences, though country variation is high. Women in their late 20s and early 30s, in contrast, appear to be most affected by the incompatibility of childbearing and gainful employment. Though these effects seem to have overcome their low points during the mid-1990s, only women in their early 30s show country-convergence.

Conclusions: The results highlight the fact that total and age-specific fertility behavior, FLP-effects and country variances are distinct concepts that add considerably to the broad understanding of the correlation between fertility and FLP.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Family inequality: On the changing educational gradient of family patterns in Western Germany
Volume 48 - Article 20

Does fertility decrease household consumption?: An analysis of poverty dynamics and fertility in Indonesia
Volume 20 - Article 26

Austria: Persistent low fertility since the mid-1980s
Volume 19 - Article 12

On the tempo and quantum of first marriages in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland: Changes in mean age and variance
Volume 10 - Article 9

Pathways to stepfamily formation in Europe: Results from the FFS
Volume 8 - Article 5

Differences in Family Policies and the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A Comparison between the former East and West Germany
Volume 6 - Article 11

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Measuring the educational gradient of period fertility in 28 European countries: A new approach based on parity-specific fertility estimates
Volume 49 - Article 34    | Keywords: education, Europe, period fertility, quantum, tempo, total fertility rate (TFR)

Ultra-Orthodox fertility and marriage in the United States: Evidence from the American Community Survey
Volume 49 - Article 29    | Keywords: age at first marriage, American Community Survey (ACS), fertility, Judaism, marriage, religion, total fertility rate (TFR), Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

The contribution of assisted reproductive technology to fertility rates and parity transition: An analysis of Australian data
Volume 45 - Article 35    | Keywords: childbearing, childlessness, first birth, reproduction, total fertility rate (TFR)

The Own-Children Method of fertility estimation: The devil is in the detail
Volume 45 - Article 25    | Keywords: age-specific fertility rate (ASFR), census data, demographic methods, indirect estimation, reverse survival method

Explaining the MENA paradox: Rising educational attainment yet stagnant female labor force participation
Volume 43 - Article 28    | Keywords: employment, female labor force participation, human capital, labor market, Middle East, North Africa