Casual employment is linked to women being childless by the age of 35

November 19, 2013

Women who have worked in temporary jobs are less likely to have had their first child by the age of 35, according to research published online today (Wednesday) in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction [1]. The study shows that the longer women spent in casual employment, the more likely they were to be childless when they were 35.

The researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, found that this association between precarious employment and childlessness at 35 was irrespective of the socioeconomic status of the women.

"Our findings suggest that, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances, women generally aspire to economic security prior to starting a family. This finding is important because it challenges the pervasive media representations of delayed childbirth as a phenomenon arising from highly educated women choosing to delay motherhood to focus on their careers," write the authors in their paper.

The study was led by Vivienne Moore, Professor in the Discipline of Public Health at the University of Adelaide, and was based on the doctoral study of Emily Steele. The researchers studied data collected from a group of Australian women who took part in the Life Journeys of Young Women Project and who were born between 1973 and 1975 in a large hospital in Adelaide, South Australia. Interviews were conducted with the women in 2007-2009 when they were aged between 32-35 years old to collect information on significant events in their lives such as relationships, childbirth and employment from the age of 15 onwards. If a woman was studying full time, she was considered to be a student and employment during this period was not taken into account.

At the time of the interviews 442 of the 663 women (67%) had given birth to at least one child. At the time of their child's birth or the study's cut-off point, the majority were permanently employed, while 11% were in temporary employment; 225 women (about one-third) had spent no time in temporary employment; one-third had a university qualification and 75% were living with a partner.

The researchers found that the likelihood of childbirth by the age of 35 was reduced for every year spent in temporary employment. One year of causal work was associated with an 8% reduction in the likelihood of a first baby compared to women who had had no temporary jobs; the likelihood of a first baby by around age 35 was reduced by 23% after three years and by 35% after five years of temporary employment.

This effect was seen irrespective of the women's socioeconomic status as indicated by their educational attainment, their partner's education and also their parents' birthplace (as the authors say that migrant families, where one or both parents were born outside Australia, might be more likely to have at least one child at a younger age than other women).

Dr Lynne Giles, co-author and senior lecturer at the university, said: "Our results showed that 61% of women who had received a university education had at least one casual job after achieving their first qualification, and 30% of these jobs were managerial or professional. This highlights the fact that temporary employment is no longer the sole domain of low-skilled, poorly paid people.

"Our results also show that having children at an older age and childlessness are not just a matter of individual women's choices. They reflect the broader structural arrangements in society. These over-arching determinants deserve more attention and study so that we can better understand the barriers to family formation."

The authors write in their paper: "Current policy responses generally provide financial and other support to parents after they have children; there remains a need to develop complementary policies to facilitate the ability of couples to commit to family formation." They add: "Since all socioeconomic groups are implicated, we suggest that upstream labour market reforms could be considered in order to remove barriers to child-bearing."

One of the limitations to the study was that the researchers analysed the women's employment history, but not that of their partners. However, they did take the partner's education into account, and they plan to investigate the employment history of both the women and the men in future work.

Although the specific results cannot be extrapolated to other countries, Prof Moore said: "The argument that women's employment conditions have an influence on the timing of family formation would seem to be relevant, especially for Western countries with neoliberal outlook."
-end-
[1] "Is precarious employment associated with women remaining childless until 35 years? Results from an Australian birth cohort study", by E.J. Steele, L.C. Giles, M.J. Davies, and V.M. Moore. Human Reproduction journal. doi:10.1093/humrep/det407

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Related Socioeconomic Status Articles from Brightsurf:

Psychological status rather than cognitive status is associated with incorrect perception of risk of falling in patients with moderate stage dementia
Dementia is associated with an impaired self-perception with potentially harmful consequences for health status and clinical risk classification in this patient group with an extraordinary high risk of falling.

Study shows socioeconomic status linked to heart failure mortality in United States
A variety of treatments exist to address heart failure, yet it continues to carry a poor prognosis.

'Low' socioeconomic status is the biggest barrier to STEM participation
A new study has found that socioeconomic status (SES) has the strongest impact on whether secondary school students study the STEM sciences.

Socioeconomic inequalities are decisive in the health of the elderly
Researchers at the UPV/EHU, Osakidetza and the Department of Health have reviewed scientific papers that analyse the relationship between socioeconomic inequalities and health among the elderly population in Spain.

Cooperation with high status individuals may increase one's own status
While other animals tend to gain status through aggression, humans are typically averse to allowing such dominant individuals to achieve high status.

Massachusetts General study identifies pathway linking socioeconomic status to cardiovascular risk
A biological pathway previously found to contribute to the impact of stress on the risk of cardiovascular disease also may underlie the increased incidence of such disease experienced by individuals with lower socioeconomic status.

How can organizations promote and benefit from socioeconomic diversity?
A new white paper has been published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Socioeconomic status associated with likelihood of receiving a heart pump
Racial/ethnic minorities, patients who are uninsured or only have Medicaid insurance and those living in low-income ZIP codes were less likely to receive a heart pumping device known as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).

Blacks with high socioeconomic status less likely to seek mental health care
In her latest research paper Sirry Alang questions why there is a significant unmet need for mental health care among Blacks and identifies solutions among healthcare systems to fix it: teach the history of racism in medicine; and actively seek, privilege and legitimize the narratives of black people.

Salad, soda and socioeconomic status: Mapping a social determinant of health in Seattle
Seattle residents who live in waterfront neighborhoods tend to have healthier diets compared to those who live along Interstate-5 and Aurora Avenue, according to new research on social disparities from the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Read More: Socioeconomic Status News and Socioeconomic Status Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.