Gendering fertility: Second births in Sweden and Hungary

  • Oláh L
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With the growing prevalence of the dual-earner family model in industrialized countries the gendered nature of the relationship between employment and parenting has become a key issue for childbearing decisions and behavior. In such a context taking into account the societal gender structure (public policies, family-level gender relations) explicitly can enhance our understanding of contemporary fertility trends. In this paper we study the second birth, given its increasing importance in the developed world as large proportions of women remain childless or bear only one child. We focus on Sweden where gender equality is pronounced at both the societal and the family level and on Hungary where the dual-earner model has been accompanied by traditional gender relations in the home sphere. Our analysis is based on data extracted from the Swedish and Hungarian Fertility and Family Surveys of 1992/93. We use the method of hazard regression. The results suggest that the second-birth intensity increases as the combination of parenthood and labor-force attachment of either parent is facilitated. We see this in the effect of family policies in Sweden and in the higher second-birth intensity of couples who share family responsibilities as compared to those with traditional gender-role behavior in both countries. Also, the lack of any visible impact of men's educational attainment in both Sweden and Hungary is probably linked to public policies as state support for families with children has reduced the importance of income for second childbearing. A positive educational gradient for Swedish women and an essentially zero gradient in Hungary reflects the success of policy measures in reducing fertility cost for more educated women in both countries.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Female employment
  • Fertility
  • Gender
  • Public policy

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  • Livia Sz Oláh

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