Who Becomes a Parent While Jobless? On the Importance of Limited Opportunities, the Normalization of Disadvantage, and Migrant Background

Daniël van Wijk, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Helga A. G. de Valk, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) / KNAW/ University of Groningen
Aart C. Liefbroer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

In many developed countries, men and women postpone the transition to parenthood when they are jobless, but this relationship differs between subgroups. We hypothesize that a stronger embeddedness in structures of disadvantage engenders a weaker adaptation of fertility behavior to joblessness as a result of more limited opportunities in the labor market and the normalization of disadvantage when it is widespread among relevant others. Further, we expect that these processes make the children of migrants react less strongly to joblessness than non-migrants. Using Dutch full-population register data, we select all persons born in the Netherlands between 1988 and 1990 and follow them from 2006 to 2019. An innovative combination of sources in the registers is used to measure the prevalence of joblessness among parents, siblings, neighborhood peers, and former school peers. Event history models show that jobless men and women postpone first childbearing less when they are lower educated and when disadvantage is more prevalent in the social environment. However, structural conditions play only a limited role in children of migrants’ fertility reactions to joblessness. We argue that the weaker link between employment and fertility among children of migrants and disadvantaged non-migrants contributes to the reproduction of ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities across generations.

Keywords: Fertility and childbirth, Migrant populations, Inequality, Life event calendar analysis

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  Presented in Session 40. Social Differences and Fertility (II)