Employment and Second Childbirths in Europe

The demographic situation in France
By Angela Greulich, Mathilde Guergoat-Larivière, Olivier Thévenon

This article studies the effects of women’s employment on second births in contemporary Europe. By mobilizing longitudinal data from the European Union’s Statistics of Income and Living conditions (EU-SILC) and aggregated data from the OECD Family Database, we find evidence that being in employment significantly increases women’s probability of second childbirth. The magnitude of the effect differs, however, among individuals. The positive impact is stronger for highly educated women and for women with partners who are themselves in employment. Dual employment thus favours family enlargement from one to two children more strongly than other employment configurations within the couple. Multilevel models also reveal that the positive effect of employment on the transition to second childbirth is reinforced in countries with high childcare coverage. The development of childcare at the country level – the most effective family policy to secure women’s employment – increases the individual probability for women of having a second child, whereas other types of institutional support such as leave schemes or lump-sum cash transfers do not have such a positive effect.


  • low fertility
  • female employment
  • work-life balance
  • Europe
  • family enlargement
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