Pre-birth employment instability and maternal labour market transitions following the birth of the first child in Italy and Sweden: a competing risks analysis

Serena Pattaro, University of Glasgow

This paper investigates the association between maternal pre-birth employment instability and labour market transitions following the birth of the first child. Microeconomic theories of human capital and labour supply are contrasted with institutional explanations. In particular, the focus is on Italy and Sweden, two countries that show distinct patterns in fertility, female labour force participation and work-family reconciliation policies. I use life-history data from the ‘Fertility and Family Survey’ (FFS) (for Italy and Sweden) and the ‘Generations and Gender Survey' (GGS) (for Italy) to analyse cohorts of women born before and after 1960. FFS data cover the experience of cohorts of women up to the early and mid-1990s, whilst GGS data cover the experience of similar cohorts up to the late 2000s. First transitions to full-time employment, part-time employment and temporary employment are modelled as competing risks. For post-birth transitions to full-time work, preliminary results, based on FFS data and the interaction between prior unstable employment and the number of children aged under three years, reveal that maternal full-time working patterns for more recent cohorts converge across countries in contrast to a divergence observed for post-birth transitions to part-time work. In opposition to the institutional view, the results for post-birth transitions to full-time work suggest that changes in parental leave policies, which occurred in Sweden during the 1980s and 1990s, may have triggered adverse consequences, in terms of a delay in labour market participation for the later cohort of mothers.

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Presented in Session 24: Female employment around birth