Gender Dynamics in Couples' Labour Market Preconditions to Parenthood in Belgium and France

Leen Marynissen , University of Antwerp
Jonas Wood, University of Antwerp
Karel Neels, University of Antwerp

As an offshoot of the unprecedented rise in female educational and labour market participation in recent decades, women’s stable employment has increasingly become a prerequisite to family formation, especially under high availability of work-family policies and supportive norms toward the work-family combination. This course of events could make both partners’ labour market positions equally relevant with respect to family formation. It is however unclear whether and to what extent this evolution has materialised. To date, few studies have examined couple dynamics in the employment-fertility link and especially the gendered nature of this link remains understudied. Moreover, available research chiefly consists of single-country studies and thus fails to consider cross-country variation in gendered preconditions to parenthood. Using detailed longitudinal microdata from the Belgian Administrative Socio-Demographic Panel (BASD) and the French Echantillon Démographique Permanent (EDP), we estimate discrete-time hazard models to examine the potentially gendered link between partners’ relative employment characteristics such as income and working hours and the transition to parenthood in Belgium and France. As Belgium and France exhibit similar family policies, differential findings on the link between partners’ employment characteristics and fertility may inform on the role of gender norms and the broader institutional context in gendered labour market preconditions to parenthood.

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 Presented in Session 120. Gender Equality and Fertility