Women’s career mobility and childbearing in Sweden. Evidence of a tradeoff?

2018-02-27T15:24:47Z (GMT) by Sunnee Billingsley
Childbearing has long been considered inimical to women’s careers, and occupational mobility may particularly reflect this dynamic. Swedish register data is used to explore how women’s occupational mobility is linked to first, second and third birth transitions to observe the importance of career developments at different stages in the fertility career. This relationship may be weak in a context such as Sweden, where policies protect women’s income and position in the labor market from heavy loss after childbirth as well as encourage fathers to share parental leave. Upward mobility was most common before entering parenthood and women delayed parenthood when they had been upwardly mobile. Career advancement continued but occurred less frequently after entering parenthood and still delayed or deterred second and third births. The negative relationship between career advancement and fertility behavior may be interpreted as evidence of a tradeoff women make in Sweden, even when policies support facilitation of work and family as well as both partners being earners and carers. Results also indicate that second and third birth transitions were related to mobility experiences relative to occupational statuses at the time of the previous birth instead of relative to early jobs in women’s careers. This pattern implies that the class at which women enter the labor market in Sweden is not an important indicator of the joint determination involved in future career and childbearing plans; moreover, instead of being a stable characteristics, fertility decisions appear related to women’s success in managing career advancement each step of the way.