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Über dieses Buch

Since 1987, the investigation of the relationship between female labour market behaviour and fertility, which forms part of the research programme of the Economic Institute / Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Labour Market and Distribution Issues (CIAV) of Utrecht University, also became a part of the research programme of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI). Since then, I have been entrusted with research on this topic. In this context, I acted on a suggestion made by Frans Willekens to organize an international workshop, with the help of other members of the NIDI staff and with the administrative and organizational support of the NIDI. This resulted in the workshop "Female Labour Market Behaviour and Fertility: Preferences, Restrictions, Behaviour," held at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute in The Hague, April 20-22, 1989, under the auspices of the European Association for Population Studies (EAPS). In this workshop, demographers, econometricians, economists, psychologists and socio­ logists discussed the paths to a truly interdisciplinary approach to the relationship between female labour market behaviour and fertility. Such an interdisciplinary approach requires a common theoretical framework. The rational-choice framework was considered to be best suited to this purpose. As a consequence, the workshop was not only structured by what was studied, but also by how it was studied. This volume consists of the papers presented at the above-mentioned workshop, as revised by the authors in collaboration with the editors.



Editors’ Introduction

1. Editors’ Introduction

This volume contains the papers presented at the conference “Female Labour Market Behaviour and Fertility: Preferences, Restrictions, Behaviour,” held in April 1989 at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute in The Hague. It is often suggested that the increased labour force participation of women in the West has played an important role in reducing fertility and that fertility may continue to decrease if the growth in female labour force participation persists. However, the economic and socio-demographic literature indicates that this causality is not as evident as many people believe. This means that we cannot be sure that measures aimed at creating better opportunities for women to combine parenthood and paid labour will actually influence fertility and if they do, what the influence will be. In order to be able to answer questions such as those regarding the effects of policy measures, further theoretical and empirical interdisciplinary research will have to be carried out into the relationship between female labour force participation and fertility. The workshop aimed to contribute to this research.
Jacques J. Siegers, Jenny de Jong-Gierveld, Evert van Imhoff

Theoretical Points of Departure


2. Understanding the Interdependence Between Parallel Careers

“Scientific inquiry is concerned not only with discovering quantitative relations between variables, but also with interpreting these relations in terms of underlying causal mechanisms that produced them. Without a knowledge of these mechanisms, we cannot predict how variables will co-vary when the structure of the system under study is altered, either experimentally or by changes in the world around us.” (Simon, 1979, p. 79). Increasingly, demographers emphasize the need to identify the underlying or intervening mechanisms linking demographic variables and suggest ways to accomplish the difficult task (Burch, 1980, p. 2; Caldwell and Hill, 1988, p. 1; Birg, 1988). The search for causal mechanisms is part of an attempt to develop a substantive theory of demographic behaviour. This paper is written in the same spirit. The aim is to explore the nature of the interdependencies between parallel careers. The fertility and labour force participation careers of women serve as an example. For no other set of two careers, the interdependence is as pronounced as for the fertility and employment careers. The basis for the interdependence is generally conflict or incompatibility, because “the timing of critical career-building phases does not accommodate women’s biological life cycle” (Regan and Roland, 1985, p. 986).
Frans J. Willekens

3. Social Approval, Fertility and Female Labour Market

Maybe the most important development in the last thirty years with regard to theory formation in the social sciences is what with the help of hindsight can now be called “economic imperialism.” (cf. Lindenberg, 1985) But while this may be true for theory formation, much of the substantive insights are to be found in the more messy social sciences, like anthropology and sociology. The economic approach to fertility and labour market behaviour does not seem to me to be an exception to this state of affairs. The most sophisticated models on the subject today are economic in origin (cf. overview Siegers, 1985 and especially Willis, 1973, Becker, 1981). But models only lead to substantive claims by the assumptions made concerning their parameters, what has been called “bridge assumptions” that bridge the distance between the model and reality, at least to some (hopefully increasing) degree. Becker’s book (1981) for example, is full of bridge assumptions, but the most important one is also the one he is most proud of: that the relevant tradeoff in the decision to have children is quantity versus quality. This assumption helps solve the puzzle “that the demand for children is highly responsive to price and perhaps to income, even when children have no close substitutes.” (Becker, 1981, p. 107).
Siegwart Lindenberg



4. De Gustibus Confusi Sumus ?

The central point of this note is that a variety of terms, including tastes and preferences, continue to be used indiscriminately to refer to a number of conceptually and empirically dinstinct realities, some of which are properties of an individual actor (subjective states of respondents), some of which are properties of social systems. These states are conceptually distinct inthe sense that many theories of behaviour as well as everyday experience suggest that they are different — what I want to do, what society says I should do, what I feel I must do and what I intend to do are not necessarily and not always the same. They also are empirically distinct in the sense that their measures may show relatively little covariance and seem to represent different underlying dimensions.
Thomas K. Burch

5. Shortcuts as Pitfalls ? Ways of Measuring Childbearing Preferences and Intentions

Measuring childbearing preferences and intentions, althought commonly practised, is considered to be a strenuous exercise. In Flanders (Belgium), the first large-scale fertility survey was launched in 1966. Since then, this kind of effort was repeated periodically. Accordingly, there is room for a comparative reflection in retrospect.
Freddy Deven, Sabien Bauwens

6. Motivation of Reproductive Behaviour and the Professional Motivation of Women

The decision by women with children to be active on the labour market is determined, to a large extent, by the preferences of the woman and her partner. This paper pays special attention to professional motivation, on the one hand, and to the desire to have children, on the other hand. Using survey data for young married women, the relation between professional activities and the desire for children is examined further and reported on in this chapter.
Erika Spieß, Friedemann W. Nerdinger, Lutz von Rosenstiel

7. A Purposeful Behaviour Theory of Work and Family Size Decisions

Our goal in this chapter will be to develop a theory of work and family size decisions at the level of the social psychology of a man and woman in an intimate relationship. Four assumptions shape the form and substance of our theory. Firstly, we assume that work and family size considerations must be integrated in any valid theory and that these considerations function as either simultaneous or sequential criteria (Bagozzi and Van Loo, 1988; Van Loo and Bagozzi, 1984). By simultaneous criteria we mean that work and family size decisions are decided upon contemporaneously in either explicit or implicit choice processes. This might occur at one point in time such as at the outset of marriage but more likely than not happens intermittently throughout the course of the relationship. By sequential criteria we mean that one or the other are decided upon with the alternative functioning as either a preexisting or anticipated constraint.
Richard P. Bagozzi, M. Frances Van Loo



8. A Biographic/Demographic Analysis of the Relationship Between Fertility and Occupational Activity for Women and Married Couples

In this paper the analytical tools of the biographic theory of fertility are applied to the analysis of interdependencies of life course events which are usually treated seperately by sociologists on the one hand and economists on the other hand.
Herwig Birg

9. Labour Market Restrictions and the Role of Preferences in Family Economics

“The economic approach contributes important insights toward explaining the large decline in birth rates during the past 100 years, the rapid expansion in the labour force participation of married women after the 1950s, the explosive advance in divorce rates during the past two decades, and other major changes in the family. Family economics is now a respectable and growing field.” (Becker, 1988, p. 3).
Klaus F. Zimmermann, John P. De New

Confrontation of Preferences and Restrictions: the Construction of Theoretical Models


10. Economic Models of Women’s Employment and Fertility

Economists take preferences as given, and are concerned with how changes in the constraints that people face, or limits to their choice, alter their behaviour. Indeed, by observing how behaviour changes with elements of these constraints (e. g. prices), they attempt to make inferences about preferences. This viewpoint is maintained in the discussion that follows. In empirical applications, variation in preferences only appears as unobserved random variables. The discussion of models is limited to those which consider both fertility and employment decisions.
John F. Ermisch

11. Models of Female Labour Supply, with Special Reference to the Effects of Children

Much of the public concern about the growing labour force participation of women centers on feared, or hoped for, effects of the market work of mothers on the well-being of their children. On the one side, there are those who fear that the children of working mothers will not receive the care they need, and that women with jobs will more readily divorce their husbands leading to the breakup of the family units on which children depend. On the other side, it is argued that the earning power of their mothers is the only protection large numbers of children have against poverty when the earnings of their fathers are basically inadequate, when fathers are unemployed or ill for long periods of time, or when fathers financially abandon their children.
Alice Nakamura, Masao Nakamura

12. Children and Female Labour Supply: A Survey of Econometric Approaches

The way in which economist try to learn about economics responses, such as the effects of children on female labour suppy, can be broken down into three steps:
the consideration of information already available called a priori information, including inferences based on what economist believe they know about other aspects of economic behavior, and the formulation of qualitative, nonparametric behavioral concepts and hypotheses that are usually stated in words;
the specification of mathematical models that are consistent with the a priori information and which provide parametric representation of the behavioral hypotheses of interest;
The use of available data and statistical methods to estimate, and then to test and interpret, the parameters of the specified mathematical models.
Alice Nakamura, Masao Nakamura

13. How Economics, Psychology, and Sociology Might Produce a Unified Theory of Fertility and Labour Force Participation

As a result of the sharp declines of the past two decades, aggregate fertility rates in many industrial countries are so low that the twenty-first century will bring negative rates of population growth to those nations of the kind already experienced by, for example, the Federal Republic of Germany. Along with this fertility decline has come a marked increase in labour force participation by married women, especially those with children. In the United States, for example, the labour force participation rate for married women with children under age six rose from 11.9 per cent in 1950 to 49.9 per cent in 1983. Women with school-age children increased their participation rate over the same period from 28.3 per cent to 63.8 per cent (Lehrer and Nerlove, 1986, p. 201).
Boone A. Turchi

Towards a Better Understanding of the Relationship between Female Labour Market Behaviour and Fertility


14. Towards a Better Understanding of the Relationship Between Female Labour Market Behaviour and Fertility

How can we gain more insight into the relationship between female labour market behaviour and fertility? One matter is clear: a purely monodisciplinary approach will not do. In organizing the workshop on “Female Labour Market Behaviour and Fertility” this point of view solved at least one problem: we did not have to make a choice between disciplines; we took them all. As the reader will have noticed, this is only partially true. Given the lack of time and money we left out, for example, the entire field of biology. We were well aware that the implication was that the workshop would focus mainly on the demand for children and much less so or hardly at all on the supply side.
Jacques J. Siegers


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