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From prosperity to parenthood

How employment, income, and perceived economic uncertainty influence family formation
PhD ceremony:Mr D.C. (Daniël) van Wijk
When:September 25, 2023
Supervisors:prof. A.C. Liefbroer, H.A.G. (Helga) de Valk, Prof
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG
From prosperity to parenthood

Across rich societies, people are becoming parents at increasingly older ages. The precarious economic position of young adults is often cited as explanation for this postponement of parenthood. However, much is still unknown about the relationship between economic characteristics and the transition to parenthood. This dissertation explores to what extent, when, and for whom different types of economic characteristics influence the transition to parenthood. Analyses of large-scale data from the Dutch registers and from surveys in seven countries show that men and women in favourable economic positions are more likely to have a first child than persons in precarious positions. However, this general statement conceals a lot of variation, as the relationship depends on the type of economic characteristic, the societal group, and the time period. 

“Objective” favourable economic conditions such as employment, high incomes, and permanent contracts speed up the transition to parenthood. In contrast, “subjective” perceptions of economic uncertainty such as worries about future employment do not seem to matter much. Also, economic conditions do not play the same role for everyone. People who are highly educated and whose parents and peers occupy more advantaged positions in society postpone parenthood more strongly when they are jobless than people with lower educational attainment whose parents and peers occupy more disadvantaged positions. Finally, a high income is more strongly related to the birth of a first child in the late 2010s than it was in the later 1990s, suggesting that the income prerequisites of parenthood have increased over time.