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Do time use patterns influence fertility decisions? A cross-national inquiry

Author(s): Lyn Craig

Journal: Electronic International Journal of Time Use Research
ISSN 1860-9937

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 60;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: time use | children | fertility decline | gender | work-family | comparative policy analysis

Birth rates are falling throughout the western world. There is no definitive answer as to why this is so. This paper investigates whether time use analysis could offer a useful perspective. It explores the way parenthood affects time allocation in four countries with different work-family policies, using data from the Multinational Time Use Survey (MTUS) World 5 series to compare the impact of children on adult time in Italy, Germany, Norway andAustralia. It considers whether fertility decisions may be influenced by i) the gap between parents and nonparents in total paid and unpaid work undertaken, ii) how paid and unpaid work is divided between mothers and fathers, and iii) the proportion of total male and female work time that is paid before and after parenthood, and conducts multivariate analysis to isolate the effects of nationality, sex and parenthood. The study is very preliminary, but the results suggest that domestic gender inequity and low female workforce participation are associated with lower fertility and may affect parity progression. Further research using more extensive and detailed timeuse analysis could make an important contribution to understanding of fertility decline.
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