Volume 28 - Article 31 | Pages 881–916

Does his paycheck also matter?: The socioeconomic resources of co-residential partners and entry into parenthood in Finland

By Marika Jalovaara, Anneli Miettinen

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Date received:22 Nov 2012
Date published:19 Apr 2013
Word count:7766
Keywords:childbearing, fertility, Finland, men, socioeconomic differentials, unions


Background: Previous research on fertility has focused on women, and less attention has been paid to men and couples.

Objective: The aim of this study is to examine how the socioeconomic resources of cohabiting and married partners affect entry into parenthood in a relatively gender-egalitarian welfare society.

Methods: The study is based on Finnish register data and uses event-history analysis to predict first births from both partners’ socioeconomic characteristics.

Results: The results show that each partner being employed (as opposed to studying) and having a higher income seems to encourage entry into parenthood. As compared to employed couples, either partner being currently unemployed or having recent spells of unemployment had very weak effects, whereas either partner being economically inactive seems to discourage childbearing. Although the resources of male partners also have an effect, the female partner’s situation appears to be equally or even more influential. The effects of female partners’ characteristics are almost as great when male characteristics are controlled as when they are not, and women’s and men’s characteristics do not interact with each other. Moreover, with regard to income and educational attainment beyond age 30, for example, the woman’s resources have a stronger positive effect than the resources of the male partner.

Conclusions: Together with several previous studies from the Nordic countries, this study lends support to the idea that the influence of women’s and men’s economic resources on family formation are perhaps much more symmetrical than conventional theories suggest.

Comments: The significance of women's own resources, net of the male partner’s resources, suggests that previous studies have not overestimated their positive impact.

Author's Affiliation

Marika Jalovaara - Turun Yliopisto (University of Turku), Finland [Email]
Anneli Miettinen - Väestöliitto (Population Research Institute), Finland [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Homeownership after separation: A longitudinal analysis of Finnish register data
Volume 41 - Article 29

» Social policies, separation, and second birth spacing in Western Europe
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» From never partnered to serial cohabitors: Union trajectories to childlessness
Volume 36 - Article 55

» Are there gender differences in family trajectories by education in Finland?
Volume 33 - Article 44

» Homogamy in socio-economic background and education, and the dissolution of cohabiting unions
Volume 30 - Article 65

» Recent fertility patterns of Finnish women by union status: A descriptive account
Volume 28 - Article 14

» Gender equality and fertility intentions revisited: Evidence from Finland
Volume 24 - Article 20

» A review of the antecedents of union dissolution
Volume 23 - Article 10

» Socioeconomic differentials in divorce risk by duration of marriage
Volume 7 - Article 16

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