Volume 32 - Article 23 | Pages 691–722 Author has provided data and code for replicating results Article has associated letter

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

By Uta Brehm, Henriette Engelhardt

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:02 Dec 2013
Date published:06 Mar 2015
Word count:6230
Keywords:age-specific fertility rate (ASFR), country heterogeneity, female labor force participation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), random coefficient model, total fertility rate (TFR)
Additional files:readme.32-23 (text file, 756 Byte)
 demographic-research.32-23 (zip file, 258 kB)


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

Uta Brehm - Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung, Germany [Email]
Henriette Engelhardt - Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Germany [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» 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

» Is a positive association between female employment and fertility still spurious in developed countries?
Volume 41 - Article 45    | Keywords: female labor force participation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), total fertility rate (TFR)

» Two period measures for comparing the fertility of marriage and cohabitation
Volume 32 - Article 14    | Keywords: age-specific fertility rate (ASFR), total fertility rate (TFR)

» Explaining the MENA paradox: Rising educational attainment yet stagnant female labor force participation
Volume 43 - Article 28    | Keywords: female labor force participation

» Does age-adjusted measurement of contraceptive use better explain the relationship between fertility and contraception?
Volume 39 - Article 45    | Keywords: total fertility rate (TFR)

» Probabilistic projection of subnational total fertility rates
Volume 38 - Article 60    | Keywords: total fertility rate (TFR)