Can Family Policies Influence the Transition to Parenthood in Turbulent Times? A Post-Communist Case Study

Lívia Murinkó , Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Zsolt Spéder, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Livia Olah, Stockholm University

Our analysis aims to examine the impact of family policies on becoming a parent in Hungary in 1985–2016. Our central question is whether we could expect family policy measures to promote childbearing at a time of profound changes in almost all areas of life. We use data on both women and men from five waves of the Hungarian Generations and Gender Survey (n=8759). Using event-history analysis, we explore how individual- and macro-level factors influenced first births. Family policy regimes are operationalised as policy periods. We control for two economic indicators: inflation and employment rate. We also capture the effect of fertility postponement, the general diffusion of late childbearing with a macro indicator: mean age of women at first birth. Finally, we address that family policy measures may operate differently across social groups. Family policies show a status-dependent effect. In 1995, the shift from universality to means-testing and the abolition of the earnings-related childcare allowance increased the costs of having children for many and led to a reduction in childbearing propensity among employed persons with vocational or secondary education. The probability of a first birth increased among employed people with secondary and tertiary education after 2002 and for non-employed women after 2010. Results show that postponement reduced the probability of becoming a parent and it is partly an autonomous process. In addition, first births were more likely in times of lower inflation and higher employment rates. Hence, the macroeconomic environment and family policies also influenced becoming a parent.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session P1. Fertility, Family, Life Course