Globalization, Gender, and the Family
This paper shows that in the presence of labor market shocks, child-bearing and child-rearing have far-reaching implications for gender inequality, household specialization and family structure. Using population register data on all births, marriages, and divorces together with employer-employee linked data for Denmark, we show that reduced labor market opportunities due to Chinese import competition lead to a move towards family, with higher rates of fertility, parental leave, and marriage, as well as lower rates of divorce. This move is driven by women, not men. We document substantial long-run earnings losses concentrated on women, and gender inequality increases. The gender-specific effects are due to a woman’s ability to give birth during a fixed period of life–her biological clock. Women have a higher reservation value for staying in the labor market when young, and a negative trade shock induces women to substitute more to family activities than men. High-earning women in their late 30s contribute strongly to the gender difference in fertility because switching to new comparable employment would require high initial commitment which is incompatible with having a newborn in the short time remaining on the biological clock. There is no gender difference (1) for workers past their fertile age, (2) in the size of the negative labor shock, and (3) due to occupational composition since we exploit within-worker variation. Despite lower labor earnings, positive family responses in Denmark are also sustained by insurance payments and government transfers so that workers can afford the shift to family.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25247