nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2022‒02‒21
three papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

  1. Beyond the male breadwinner: life-cycle living standards of intact and disrupted English working families, 1260-1850 By Horrell, Sara; Humphries, Jane; Weisdorf, Jacob
  2. Physical and Mental Health Changes in the Five Years before and Five Years after Childbirth: A Population-Based Panel Study in First-Time Mothers and Fathers from Germany By Eva Asselmann; Susan Garthus-Niegel; Susanne Knappe; Julia Martini
  3. Does more free childcare help parents work more? By Mike Brewer; Sarah Cattan; Claire Crawford; Birgitta Rabe

  1. By: Horrell, Sara; Humphries, Jane; Weisdorf, Jacob
    Abstract: This article provides a novel framework within which to evaluate real household incomes of predominantly rural working families of various sizes and structures in England in the years 1260–1850. We reject ahistorical assumptions about complete reliance on men's wages and male breadwinning, moving closer to reality by including women and children's contributions to family incomes. Our empirical strategy benefits from recent estimates of men's annual earnings, so avoiding the need to gross up day rates using problematic assumptions about days worked, and from new data on women and children's wages and labour inputs. A family life-cycle approach which accommodates consumption smoothing through saving adds further breadth and realism. Moreover, the analysis embraces two historically common but often overlooked family types alternative to the traditional male-breadwinner model: one where the husband is missing having died or deserted, and one where the husband is present but unwilling or unable to find work. Our framework suggests living standards varied widely by family structure and dependency ratio. Incorporating detailed demographic data available for 1560 onward suggests that small and intact families enjoyed high and rising living standards after 1700, while large or disrupted families depended on child labour and poor relief until c. 1830. A broader perspective on family structures informs understanding of the chronology and nature of poverty and coping strategies.
    Keywords: child labour; consumption smoothing; costs-of-living; dependency ratio; life cycle; living standards; male breadwinner families; poor relief; prices; wages; CF18-0495
    JEL: J22 N13 O10
    Date: 2021–08–30
  2. By: Eva Asselmann; Susan Garthus-Niegel; Susanne Knappe; Julia Martini
    Abstract: Background: The transition to parenthood is characterized by far-reaching changes in life. However, little prospective-longitudinal evidence from general population samples exists on changes of general physical and mental health in the years around the birth of a child among mothers and fathers. Methods: Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), this study examined continuous and discontinuous short- and long-term changes of general physical and mental health from five years before until five years after the birth of the first child in women (N = 1,912) and men (N = 1,742). Whether a child was born was assessed annually throughout the study. Physical and mental health was assessed biannually from 2002 to 2018 with the SF-12v2. Results: Multilevel analyses revealed that women experienced a considerable decrease of physical health during pregnancy, which remitted after delivery. On average, women’s mental health increased in the last year before and first year after delivery. These mental health improvements were stronger in older vs. younger mothers and remained largely stable in the years after childbirth. In contrast, little evidence for changes of general physical or mental health in (expectant) fathers was found. Limitations: Physical and mental health was assessed with a short questionnaire only (SF-12v2). Conclusions: On average, women’s mental health tends to improve before and after the birth of the first child. Men seem to be much less affected by the birth of a child than many previous studies suggest.
    Keywords: Pregnancy; parenthood; well-being; psychopathology; prospective-longitudinal
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Mike Brewer (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Resolution Foundation); Sarah Cattan (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies); Claire Crawford (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Birmingham); Birgitta Rabe (Institute for Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: Many governments are considering expanding childcare subsidies to increase the labour force participation of parents (especially mothers) with young children. In this paper, we study the potential impact of such a policy by comparing the e?ects of o?ering free part-time childcare and of expanding this offer to the whole school day in the context of England. We use two di?erent strategies exploiting free childcare eligibility rules based on date of birth. Both strategies suggest that free part-time childcare only marginally a?ects the labour force participation of mothers whose youngest child is eligible, but expanding from part-time to full-time free childcare leads to signi?cant increases in labour force partici-pation and employment of these mothers. These e?ects emerge immediately and grow over the months following entitlement. We ?nd no evidence that parents adjust their labour supply in anticipation of their children’s entitlement to free childcare.
    Date: 2020–03–30

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