Research note: The persistent risk of in-work poverty following the birth of a first, second, and third child across the life course
Keywords:parenthood, poverty, cross-national, life course
Objective: The association between a first, second, and third childbirth and in-work poverty in the short- and medium-term were assessed across age groups in the US and Germany.
Background: Previous research on in-work poverty has concentrated on structural and ascriptive characteristics, while family processes - especially childbirths - received less attention. This gap was filled by adopting a processual life course approach.
Method: Longitudinal data from the US and Germany were applied to between-within random effects models to estimate within-individual change in the probability of in-work poverty up to six years following a first, second, and third childbirth across age groups.
Results: First, second, and third birth were associated with an immediate increase in the probability of in-work poverty (up to 10 and 5 percentage points in the US and in Germany, respectively). Among US adults aged 30 and younger probabilities increased in the medium term (from 9 to 15 percentage points for a first, 6 to 15 for a second, and 9 to 18 for a third birth), but remained unchanged for older adults in the US and all adults in Germany.
Conclusion: There was no recovery in risk of in-work poverty in the medium-term following childbirth in the US and Germany. Increasing the labor market participation of adult household members via more and low-cost childcare options remains crucial. However, higher levels of income support and child benefits may be needed to avoid poverty.
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