Welfare state context, female labour-market attachment and childbearing in Germany and Denmark

Andersson, G., Kreyenfeld, M. R., Mika, T.

Journal of Population Research, 31:4, 287-316 (2014)



This study investigates the role of female labour-market attachment and earnings in childbearing progressions in two very different European contexts. By applying event-history techniques to German and Danish register data during 1981–2001, we demonstrate how female earnings relate to first, second and third birth propensities. Our study shows that female earnings are positively associated with first birth fertility in Denmark, while this is not the case in West Germany. We interpret our findings based on the fact that Danish social context and policy encourage women to establish themselves in the labour market before becoming mothers, while the German institutional context during the 1980s and 1990s was not geared towards encouraging maternal employment. For higher-order births, the results are less clearcut. For Denmark we find a slightly positive correlation between female earnings and second-birth fertility, while the association is somewhat negative for third-order births. In Germany, women tend to leave the labour market when becoming mothers. Non-employed mothers have elevated second and, in particular, third-birth rates. For the group of mothers who are employed, we find only a weak association between their earnings and higher-order fertility.