9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN26 Sociology of Social Policy

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Exploring Social Policy Reforms: Fertility and Gender Issues Building II, Auditório C1.04

Fertility Choices and Childcare Availability in Portugal

In Portugal, as in the other South European countries, both fertility and family friendly policies are challenging. The familialistic societies in South Europe put the most of the childbearing responsibility within the family, particularly on the women, while in the northern European countries a set of family friend policies had been developed in the last decade. At the same time, in almost all European societies, the female participation in the labour market had increased. In the southern European countries, the combination between the familialistic cultures with the current trends of female work had result in a double burden for women associated with the lower levels of fertility.
Within this context, the availability of childcare in the first years of life is one of the most important points to the conciliation between work and family.
In Portugal the rate of children, between 3 to 5 years, enrolled in childcare had a most significant increase: it was near 27% in the mid 80?s and it is around 77% in 2003/4. Nevertheless, this tendency was not followed by any recuperation in the fertility levels. This apparent paradox is associated with the multidimensional scope of the fertility drivers. The low levels of fertility are associated with the postponement of motherhood (and the tempo effects in the current indexes), the increase in job instability, high costs of the housing market, and other factors.
The purpose of this analysis is to understand the impact of childcare availability on fertility levels and on the postponement of motherhood, using a quantitative insight as a basis to the analytical discussion. In view of the fact that regional fertility is associated with a set of different other factors; we apply multivariate models to understand the impact of the childcare availability in fertility, in the presence of a diversity of social and economic environments. The main hypothesis we want to verify with this research is about the association between higher levels of fertility and the actual implementation of family friend settings, particularly the childcare availability.