Fertility and Women’s Employment: A Meta-analysis

Fécondité et travail des femmes: une méta-analyse
  • Anna MatysiakEmail author
  • Daniele Vignoli


Our research objective was to systematise the existing literature on the relation between fertility and women’s employment at the micro-level. Instead of carrying out a traditional literature review, we conducted a meta-analysis. This allowed us to compare estimates from different studies standardised for the country analysed, the method applied, control variables used and sample selected. We focused on two effects: the impact of work on fertility and the impact of young children on employment entry. First, we found a high variation in the studied effects among the institutional settings, reflecting the existence of a north–south gradient. Second, we observed a significant change in the effects over time. Finally, we demonstrated that a failure to account for the respondent’s social background, partner and job characteristics tends to produce a bias in the estimated effects.


Fertility Women’s employment Meta-analysis Welfare regimes 


Notre objectif est de faire la synthèse de la littérature concernant la relation entre fécondité et travail des femmes à l’échelle micro, et nous avons effectué une méta-analyse plutôt qu’une synthèse traditionnelle. Ceci nous a permis de comparer les estimations de différentes études en ajustant pour le pays, la méthode d’analyse, les variables de contrôle, et l’échantillon. Nous avons considère deux effets: l’impact du travail sur la fécondité, et l’impact des jeunes enfants sur l’entrée de la mère dans la vie professionnelle. En premier lieu, nous avons observé une forte variation des effets en fonction du contexte d’étude, avec l’existence d’un gradient Nord-Sud. En second lieu, nous démontrons que la non prise en compte de la position sociale du sujet, de celle de son partenaire et des caractéristiques de l’emploi tend à conduire à des biais dans l’estimation des effets.


Fécondité Travail des femmes Méta-analyse Systèmes de protection sociale 



This work was to a large extent prepared during our stay at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and continued when Anna Matysiak was supported by the Foundation for Polish Science. The library of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research is gratefully acknowledged for having provided us with the articles for this analysis. The article profited remarkably from discussions with Gunnar Andersson, Gabriele Doblhammer, Irena E. Kotowska, Michaela Kreyenfeld, Gerda Neyer, Beata Nowok and Silvana Salvini as well as the suggestions of the two anonymous reviewers of this journal. This work was presented at the “Interdisciplinary Workshop on Meta-Analysis” at the University of Cologne (Germany), 26–27 October 2006, whose participants provided us with very useful comments. We would also like to thank Susann Backer for the language editing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Statistics and DemographyWarsaw School of EconomicsWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Department of DemographyUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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