Relating migration and commuting histories to fertility histories using multi-channel sequence analysis

Heiko Rüger, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
Gil Viry, University of Edinburgh

In the age of globalisation and increasing mobility demands within the labour market, work-related spatial mobility, like daily and weekly commuting, frequent business travel or migration, has become a widespread phenomenon in today’s European societies. This paper examines the interrelations between such high mobility behaviours and family life events. The sample (N=1735) derives from the second wave of the “Job Mobilities and Family Lives in Europe” study, which was randomly selected from the residential population aged 25 to 57 in Germany, France, Switzerland and Spain in 2007 and 2010/12. The data feature retrospective information on work-related spatial mobility, fertility and partnership histories. In a life course approach, complete trajectories of spatial mobility and fertility were built using sequence analysis techniques. Sequences allow us to deal with four relevant dimensions of life trajectories simultaneously: the duration, the frequency, the timing and the type of mobility/family events. We used optimal matching analysis (OMA) to group together similar sequences and multi-channel sequence analysis (MCSA) to study how mobility histories relate to family development histories. Preliminary results using the German sub-sample reveal clear gender differences. In the case of women, patterns of frequent and long-term commuting which started early in the occupational career are associated with a low or absent fertility and postponed childbearing. In case of men, mobility histories are largely independent of fertility histories. These results point to a goal conflict in contemporary societies where the growing mobility/flexibility of workers challenges work-family life balance and gender equity. The paper will present and discuss the findings across the four countries studied in light of their family policies.

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Presented in Session 101: Childlessness, fertility and employment