The changing roles of women and men in the family and fertility regulation: some labour policy aspects
There is growing evidence that labor policies, such as those advocated by the International Labor Organization (ILO), promote changes in familial roles and that these changes in turn have an impact on fertility. A conceptual model describing these linkages is offered and the degree to which the linkages hypothesized in the model are supported by research findings is indicated. The conceptual model specifies that: 1) as reliance on child labor declines, through the enactment of minimum age labor laws, the economic value of children declines, and parents adopt smaller family size ideals; 2) as security increases for the elderly, through the provision of social security and pension plans, the elderly become less dependent on their children, and the perceived need to produce enough children to ensure security in old age is diminished; and 3) as sexual equality in job training and employment and the availability of flexible work schedules increase, sexual equality in the domestic setting increases, and women begin to exert more control over their own fertility. ILO studies and many other studies provide considerable evidence in support of these hypothesized linkages; however, the direction or causal nature of some of the associations has not been established. Development levels, rural or urban residence, and a number of other factors also appear to influence many of these relationships. Overall, the growing body of evidence accords well with ILO programs and instruments which promote: 1) the enactment of minimum age work laws to reduce reliance on child labor, 2) the establishment of social security systems and pension plans to promote the economic independence of the elderly, 3) the promotion of sexual equality in training programs and employment; 4) the promotion of the idea of sexual equality in the domestic setting; and 5) the establishment of employment policies which do not unfairly discriminate against workers with family responsibilities.