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General: Employment Uncertainty & Low Fertility

Study: Measuring the effect of employment uncertainty on fertility in low-fertility contexts: an overview of existing measures

In an era of fluctuating job markets, understanding the intricate relationship between employment uncertainty and fertility decisions is crucial. This topic has garnered increased attention, particularly as advanced economies grapple with evolving employment conditions and declining fertility rates.

Big picture

The link between job market fluctuations and fertility rates is evident but complex. There’s a pressing need for a more nuanced understanding of how different aspects of employment uncertainty impact fertility choices.

Diving into the complexity

  1. Definitional Challenges:
    • Conceptual Variability: Employment uncertainty is a multifaceted concept with varying definitions across studies, hindering a unified understanding.
    • Measurement Dilemmas: The lack of consensus on how to measure employment uncertainty adds to the complexity. Measures range from objective indicators like employment status and job type to subjective perceptions like job security.
  2. Objective Measures:
    • Employment Status and Contract Type: Studies often categorize workers based on employment type (e.g., permanent, temporary, self-employed) to assess job security.
    • Quantifying Unemployment: Some research quantifies time spent in unemployment or the number and duration of job spells as indicators of employment uncertainty.
  3. Subjective Measures:
    • Perceived Job Security: Direct survey questions about job security provide insights into subjective perceptions of employment stability.
    • Subjective Well-being (SWB): SWB is used as a proxy to understand unobservable job characteristics that might contribute to employment uncertainty.
  4. Micro and Macro Perspectives:
    • Individual Experiences: Individual perceptions and experiences of employment uncertainty significantly impact fertility decisions.
    • Broader Economic Trends: National and local unemployment rates, as well as broader labor market trends, play a critical role in shaping fertility behavior.
  5. Impact of Demographic Factors:
    • Age and Education: The age at which employment uncertainty occurs and educational attainment significantly influence fertility decisions.
    • Gender Differences: The impact of employment uncertainty on fertility varies between men and women, with recent trends indicating a more pronounced negative effect for women.
  6. Influence of Social and Economic Context:
    • Policy Interplay: Social policies, such as child tax benefits and parental leave, interact with employment conditions to influence fertility decisions.
    • Economic Security: Economic security, which includes factors like income stability and financial resilience, is closely linked to employment uncertainty and fertility.
  7. Methodological Considerations:
    • Modelling Choices: Different research methodologies, from event history analysis to causal models, offer varied insights but also come with limitations.
  8. Global Implications and Variability:
    • Cultural and Economic Contexts: The relationship between employment uncertainty and fertility varies across countries, influenced by cultural norms and economic conditions.
    • Expanding Research Scope: There’s a need for more research in diverse geographical contexts, particularly in low-fertility countries outside of Europe.


The intricate web of factors influencing the employment uncertainty-fertility nexus requires a multifaceted approach. Researchers and policymakers must navigate through definitional and methodological challenges to fully understand and address this issue.

A deeper exploration of the interplay between individual perceptions, economic trends, and policy frameworks will be key in shaping future fertility trends and labor market policies.