The Consequences of Uncertainty on FamiliesTHE DOUBTS ON ONE'S WORK FUTURE ARE A BRAKE ON BIRTHS AND THUS LIMIT THE CREATION OF NEW HUMAN CAPITAL, ACCORDING TO A RESEARCH BY LETIZIA MENCARINI
The idea that macro-level employment uncertainty discourages people from having children is pretty obvious, but how does it work at the individual level? In the working paper Is the Impact of Employment Uncertainty on Fertility Intentions Channeled by Subjective Well-Being? Letizia Mencarini, Associate Professor of Demography at Bocconi University and fellow at the Dondena Centre, measures with co-authors Daniele Vignoli and Giammarco Alderotti the impact of such uncertainty at the micro-level of perception.
They analyzed two rounds of European Social Survey data (2004 and 2010, before and during the Great Recession) on heterosexual couples aged 15-45. Both rounds collect data coming from 22 European countries, Italy excluded. The ESS observes both the presence of permanent work vs. limited term working contracts and the level of self-declared life satisfaction. It turns out that employment uncertainty has a negative effect on fertility intention only when the subjective well-being (SWB) is relatively low. So, SWB plays the role of intermediate variable.
“The level of happiness declared on the ESS,” Mencarini says, “sums up the level of satisfaction in various areas of life. However, psychological studies state the importance of working-life quality in building individual satisfaction. The employment uncertainty translates into dissatisfaction and therefore indirectly into fertility intentions, delaying or erasing motherhood especially on the second childbirth”.
The paper differentiates the outcomes by gender and period before and after the recession. “In Europe, men have safer jobs and are paid better than their female colleagues. The crisis affected male employment and brought to a reduction of fertility intentions. Men are less disposed than women to accept employment uncertainty”.
Read the other stories on the topic of Human Capital:
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Gig Economy: What Rights for Workers?
The Chosen People who Invested on Themselves
Not only CEOs, the Importance of the Manager
Investing Time in Children Pays
Uncertain Victor, Better Candidates
The Importance of Incentives
Autonomy in Decision Making: the Right Balance is Required
The Geography of Human Capital
Not all Directors have the Same Value
by Claudio Todesco