The objective of my PhD research project is to investigate in depth using both aggregate and individual-level data how fertility is affected by high economic and employment uncertainty, such as that generated by the recent economic crisis.
My interest in this topic began with a puzzle on the decisional process leading to childbearing and in particular on the way economic uncertainty affects the transition to parenthood. My findings reveal that employment insecurity is determinant in shaping the transition to first births but that job market conditions are not the only channel through which the crisis reduced first births. Aggregate economic uncertainty, the perception of future instability and socioeconomic intergenerational mobility also play a determinant role.
Importantly, my findings also speak in favour of a permanent negative effect of the crisis on the extensive margin (deciding on whether to have children or not) of fertility for women close to the end of their reproductive lives. This result is part of my thesis and of a published paper co-authored with Professor Bernardi, my supervisor at the EUI, attached here.
Applying a difference-in-difference approach to pseudo-cohorts of 34-39 years old white American women, we were able to quantify the (positive) causal effect of the Great Recession on cohort childlessness for women close to their forties, for whom a postponement of motherhood very likely means remaining childless (Comolli and Bernardi 2015).