For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Womens work activity and fertility"

by Standing, Guy (1983)


he relationships between fertility and female labor force participation have been explored. This paper briefly reviews the principal findings associated with the most widely used economic perspective, noting some of the conceptual and methodological limitations that have persisted. Methodological limitations have been imposed by the nature of the data, the type of statistical analysis conducted, and the ambiguity of the hypothetical relationships involved. The problem of simultaneous relationships troubles researchers. Many studies lack control variables. It is difficult to estimate shadow wage rates--opportunity incomes. The simplest hypothesis is that fertility is inversely related to women's labor force participation. Researchers in the early 1960s saw the promotion of female employment as a means of reducing fertility. More recent research, however, has complicated the early views. Women who work earn income which enables the family to afford a larger number of children. Childbearing and childraising may not limit women working, and may have neglible opportunity costs. This view focuses on the "role compatibility" between women's work and fertility. Role compatibility is discussed according to the type of work and the type of child care. Other aspects of the relationship between fertility and women's work are the time frame of work, interruption effects, labor discrimination effects, and labor substitution effects. The influence of work activity on fertility remains unclear. The complexity of the relationship between women's work and fertility raises questions about the theoretical approach to this issue.


Standing, Female Employment, Womens Work Activity, Care, Child Care


Women and Work

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