The long and winding road to women's work-family reconciliation in Spain

Daniel Guinea-Martín, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
Irene Lapuerta, Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA)

We study the effects of first and second child on women's timing of exit from and re-entry to the labour market in Spain in the period 2005-2011. This is a relatively well-trodden area of research in general, but not in the case of Spain, and much less in the period prior to, and concurrent with, the present crisis. The data we use is the 'Muestra Continua de Vidas Laborales', a unique administrative record that links the individuals’ employment history with municipal and income tax data. Traditionally, and up to the mid-1990s, when most studies stop, Spain was an 'early peak' country: women's participation rates were relatively high in their younger years, but declined sharply after family formation. Our first contribution consists in updating this picture. Secondly, among the women who come back to paid employment after child-birth, we investigate how long they remain employed. Thirdly, the data allow observing unemployment spells during which the woman receives benefits. Some authors have suggested that women in the lower-paying occupations may use unemployment benefits as a surrogate form of extended maternity leave. And, finally, we study whether patterns differ in the boost and bust periods that the years 2005 to 2011 comprise. Our main hypothesis is that, overall, Spain does not fit anymore the 'early peak' characterisation. But the female labour force has grown in number and also in internal heterogeneity. Hence, we expect to find distinctive patterns of labour market participation depending on women's levels of human capital. In particular, we expect the probability of continuous employment to be significantly higher among tertiary-educated women than among the rest.

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Presented in Session 34: Work, employment and income in an uncertain world