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Labor Market Influences on Women’s Fertility Decisions: Longitudinal Evidence from Canada

Sat, August 11, 10:30 to 11:30am, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 5, Salon G


Fertility rates have been decreasing dramatically in North American over the past several decades. Our research contributes to explanations for this pattern by asking whether insecure work delays fertility plans. Fertility theories suggest that job insecurity may encourage women to postpone parenthood until they find a more stable and/or financially secure job. Despite the plausibility of these theories few have examined how individual-level perceptions of job security influence family formation decisions. Building on a largely Eurocentric literature, we use longitudinal data constructed from a national study of Canadian workers (Canadian Work, Stress and Health Study (CAN-WSH) N=6,004) to examine the impact of women’s job insecurity on their likelihood of having a first child. We also look for evidence of SES- and age-contingencies in any revealed association between insecurity and fertility behaviors. Analyses of a sub-panel of CAN-WSH participants observed over 7 years (N=221) indicate that college educated women who perceive their job as insecure are more likely to delay having their first child compared to their secure counterparts. The difference in the likelihood of a first child between secure and insecure non-college degree holders was not statistically significant. Moreover, we find that the relationship between insecurity and fertility decisions also varies by women’s stage in the life course—with insecurity more strongly associated with a delayed first child for younger women. We discuss these findings in relation to the broader literature on macro-level conditions, sociodemographic features, and fertility decisions.


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