Maternal free time - a missing element in fertility studies
Studies on mothers’ time allocation and fertility have predominantly accentuated the importance of paid work for fertility decisions and, in consequence, of policies that would allow combining paid work and family life. In this view, work time is typically seen as the time taken away from the family, and vice versa. This paradigm does not acknowledge that mothers may need time for themselves including rest, and leisure and that it should be set aside from their professional or family life. This study investigates whether the amount of free time available to mothers, maternal tiredness, and maternal satisfaction with the amount of leisure time are associated with second birth transitions. We use the data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, waves 1 to 20, and model the time to the second birth using event history models. We find that a mother’s free time, tiredness, and satisfaction with leisure are significantly associated with second birth risk. Further analyses show that a mother’s education is an important moderator in some of these associations. This study brings attention to the complexity of mothers’ personal lives and emphasizes the need to look at them from a fined-grained perspective.
Key words: fertility, leisure, depletion, childbearing, motherhood, education.