An Investigation of the Relationship Between Work and Family Size Decisions Over Time

1984| Working Paper No. 772

Contrary to earlier work which tended to find that wife’s labor force participation and family size are negatively and causally related, t h e present study finds that the variables are spuriously correlated. More specifically, labor force participation of the wife and family size are shown to be codetermined by sex role norms. The evidence suggests that the spouses in a marriage socially construct their role relatinship and this then serves as a common antecedent influencing work and family size choices. Hypotheses are tested on a marriage cohort over time by use of a recursive model. Responses from both spouses are used in order to perform the analyses at the level of the husband and wife relationship. A key informant methodology is employed within the context of a simultaneous equation system with latent variables.