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Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria, 1975-96

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The standardized rate of third births declined by over 50 percent in Austria between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s. The third birth was also postponed gradually over the years until 1991-92, after which the tempo of childbearing suddenly increased in response to a change in the parental-leave policy. This new policy inadvertently favoured women who had their second or subsequent child shortly after their previous one. We cannot find any indication that the general decline in third births can be seen as a consequence of women's increasing independence from their husbands at the stage in life we study. Furthermore, it still seems to be more difficult to combine motherhood and labour-force participation in Austria than in Sweden, which is a leader in reducing this incompatibility. These developments reflect the tension between advancing gender equality and the dominance of traditional norms in Austria.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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