The Rise of Hypogamy and Its Consequences for Family Life in Austria

Nadia Steiber , Institute for Advanced Studies
Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Department of Economics, University of Linz
Caroline Berghammer, University of Vienna and Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, OeAW, Univ. Vienna)

The rise in hypogamy is likely to change power dynamics within couples and the outcome of family-related decisions such as those regarding childbearing and the division of labour within the couple. Yet, despite the undisputed relevance of this demographic shift, empirical research on its consequences is scarce. In the light of these gaps in the literature, the study aims to further our understanding of the consequences of couples’ changing educational composition for parental employment. We use register data that include a full sample of all first births that occurred in Austria in the time period 1990-2007. Longitudinal data on parental employment and earnings trajectories is recorded up to the year 2016. The sample amounts to about 650,000 first births. We show that the share of hypogamic unions has been increasing in Austria. We chart the employment and earnings trajectories of mothers and fathers around first birth, describing differences between different educational pairings. Moreover, we employ diagonal reference models to disentangle status level-effects from status-inconsistency effects. The central predictors are parents’ respective level of education and education-based status-inconsistency before first birth and we control among others for the year of birth (time trends), parents’ age at first birth (and their age composition), and the occurrence of subsequent births. Our first results suggest that status-inconsistency within the couple (hypogamy as well as hypergamy) exerts a substantial effect on mothers' employment and earnings trajectory that is independent of the main effects of her and his education.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course