• Journal Article

Intended Childbearing and Labor Force Participation of Young Women: Insights from Nonrecursive Models

Citation

Waite, L. J., & Stolzenberg, R. M. (1976). Intended Childbearing and Labor Force Participation of Young Women: Insights from Nonrecursive Models. American Sociological Review, 41(2), 235-252.

Abstract

The relationship between women's fertility and labor force participation plans has commanded much attention recently. Some analysts have argued that women reduce their desired fertility in order to accommodate their desires for labor force participation; others have suggested that women's plans for labor force participation are modified to accommodate their expected fertility; still others have argued that women's fertility expectations and labor force participation plans both affect each other simultaneously; and at least one analyst has suggested that the commonly observed inverse relationship between women's childbearing and labor force activity is spurious and is caused by common antecedents of both variables. In this paper, we investigate these and other related hypotheses by examining simultaneous equation models of young women's fertility expectations and plans for future labor force participation (i.e., plans for labor force participation when they are 35 years old). Our analyses are based on a large national sample of women in their mid twenties (n = 3589 after deletion of cases with missing data). We find that the number of children a woman plans to bear has only a small effect on the probability that she plans to participate in the labor force when she is 35 years old. However, we find that a woman's plans to participate in the labor force when she is 35 have a substantial effect on the total number of children she plans to bear in her lifetime. We find this relationship for presently married and for never-married women. We also find the same relationship for married women when their husbands' income and their husbands' attitudes toward their labor force participation are included in the model. We discuss the methodological implications of our findings for other studies of women's fertility and labor force activity