Negotiating private life

Happy family in a city park

Sara Ayllón from the University of Girona in Spain has written a new working paper in which she takes a closer look at the potential impact of the high levels of job insecurity caused by the Great recession on fertility decisions among young people in Europe.

In doing so, besides a literature review, she uses data from 32 European countries provided through the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the European Union – Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) for the period 2004-2014 for men and women aged between 17-44 years.

Ten measures of job insecurity are identified;

  • The unemployment rate for the entire population;
  • The percentage of workers under a temporary contract;
  • The percentage of workers in a part-time job;
  • The percentage of unemployed that declare that they have been looking for a job for more than a year;
  • The percentage of unemployed that declare that in their previous jobs they were dismissed;
  • The percentage of part-time workers that declare that they could not find a full-time job;
  • The percentage of temporary workers that declare that they could not find a permanent job;
  • The percentage of workers that state that they wish they could work more hours:
  • The percentage of workers that declare that they are looking for a new job because of fear of losing the current one:
  • And, the percentage of unemployed that gave up searching for a job because they believe that none is available.

Early in her research Ayllón notices that there are large differences among the results. Besides the differences among the different age groups, the heterogeneity is largely noticed in the differences among the country groups, due to differences in institutional and labour market arrangements.

In order to make this clearer, the data is clustered in different regions;

  • The Mediterranean countries
  • The Nordic countries
  • The Eastern European countries
  • And the Continental European countries

All in all, the main results show that job insecurity is not unequivocally negatively related with fertility decisions among young people in Europe. There is a large heterogeneity when it comes to age groups, gender and country, though the results fully depend on the indicators used.

Long-term unemployment and job redundancy appear to be the indicators with the strongest negative relationship when it comes to the probability of having children. Temporary work also has significant negative effects in the Southern countries and the prevalence of part-time work in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.

However, the case of long-term unemployment in combination with not looking for a job (because of the impression that none is available) could have a positive effect on fertility, which is the case in Continental Europe and in the English speaking countries, entirely the opposite effect is reached in Eastern European countries and the Baltic states. Most likely, these differences can be explained by the differences among institutional arrangements.

More extensive results of the analysis can be found in the full version of the working paper (pdf).