European Journal of Population

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 35–63 | Cite as

Delayed First Birth and New Mothers’ Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from Biological Fertility Shocks

  • Massimiliano BrattiEmail author
  • Laura Cavalli


We investigate the impact of delaying the first birth on Italian mothers’ labor market outcomes around childbirth. The effect of postponing motherhood is identified using biological fertility shocks; namely, the occurrence of miscarriages and stillbirths. Focusing on mothers’ behavior around the first birth, our study is able to isolate the effect of motherhood postponement from that of total fertility. Our estimates suggest that delaying the first birth by 1 year raises the likelihood of participating in the labor market by 1.2 % points and weekly working time by about half an hour, while we do not find any evidence that late motherhood prevents worsening of new mothers’ job conditions (the so-called “mommy track”). Our findings are robust to a number of sensitivity checks, among which are controls for partners’ characteristics and a proxy for maternal health status.


Delayed first birth Fertility shocks Italy Labor market New mothers 



We gratefully acknowledge Cinzia Castagnaro and Claudia Iaccarino from ISTAT for providing us with some useful data to integrate the publicly available version of the Italian Birth Sample Survey’s first wave. Two anonymous referees and participants in presentations given at the 7th European Workshop on Labour Markets and Demographic Change (St. Gallen), the University of Milan, and the University of Verona are gratefully acknowledged for their comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimers apply.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DEMMUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.IZABonnGermany
  3. 3.DSEUniversità degli Studi di VeronaVeronaItaly
  4. 4.Università BocconiMilanItaly

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