Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria, 1975-96
Population Studies, 55:3, 249–261 (2001)
The standardised rate of third births declined by over 50 percent in Austria between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s. The third birth was also postponed gradually over the years up through 1991-92, after which the tempo of childbearing suddenly in-creased in response to a change in the parental-leave policy. This new policy inadvertently favoured women who had their second or subsequent child shortly after their pre-vious one. We cannot find any indica-tion that the general decline in third births can be seen as a consequence of women’s increas-ing independence from their husbands at the stage in life we study. Furthermore, it still seems to be more difficult to combine mother-hood and labour-force participation in Austria than in Sweden, which is a leader in reducing this incompatibility. These developments reflect the tension between advancing gender equality and the dominance of traditional norms in Austria.