Author(s): Daniele Vignoli, Letizia Mencarini, Giammarco Alderotti
This article combines two apparently distinct strands of contemporary research on fertility: the literature on economic uncertainty and fertility and the literature on subjective well-being and fertility. We advance the hypothesis that the impact of term-limited work contracts and precarious jobs on fertility intentions is channeled by an individual’s level of subjective well-being. To test this hypothesis, we adopt a formal framework for causal inference and apply techniques of mediation analysis to data from two rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS 2004 and 2010). Our analysis clearly suggested that the impact of employment uncertainty on fertility intentions depended on the level of subjective well-being: the negative effect was found only when subjective well-being was relatively low (i.e. life satisfaction levels equal or below 6). Detailed results show that parents and younger individuals reduced their fertility intentions more than the childless and older individuals when experiencing economic uncertainty and facing low subjective well-being. We also found that in 2010 – while the economic crisis was underway – it was especially the deterioration in men’s position in the labor market that inhibited fertility planning.
Keywords: Economic Uncertainty; Subjective Well-being; Fertility Intentions; Europe; Mediation Analysis; Causal Inference; Great Recession