Influence of place of employment on Estonian men’s plans of having children

Mare Ainsaar, Ave Roots, Marek Sammul, Kati Orru

The majority of studies of birth-rate focus on the attitudes and behaviour of women. However, today couples often make decisions about having children together and thus it is also necessary to study men’s plans about having children. A study of Estonian men conducted in 2015 showed that Estonian men up to the age of 54 believe that an ideal number of children a family should have is over two and they wish to have the same number of children. Only 3% of men did not want to become a father at all. The majority wanted to have either two (48%) or three children (34%).

In the present article we analyse the link between men’s plans of having children and their satisfaction with their employment and the employer’s support to families. The analysis is based on the data of a study of Estonian men conducted in late 2014. The study is a questionnaire- based representative study of Estonian men between the ages of 16 and 54. For the analysis we used the data about the men who are employed and live together with their partners. The number of such men in the study was 1167.

The results showed that the plans of having children were associated with demographic data. The men with more firm desire to have children were younger and had few children at the time of participating in the study, but desiring to have more, that is, they were men whose desire to have children had not yet been fulfilled. Behaviour related to the birth rate is also influenced by social norms. Men who believe that the ideal number of children is smaller also desire to have fewer children.

Of the characteristics related to work, men’s dissatisfaction with their employment reduced men’s desire to have children, but the family-friendliness of the employer or workload did not have an effect. Satisfaction with employment lost its effect in the family planning model that also included references to financial difficulties. Financial difficulties reduced the desire to have children and are related to satisfaction with work.

Competing activities in life should reduce the desire to have children, but our results show that changes in different spheres of life increased men’s desire to have children. Men who planned more changes in their lives also planned to have more children.