ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN’S OCCUPATION WITH ACTUAL AND IDEAL NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN BANGLADESH: A CASE OF ROLE INCOMPATIBILITY
Keywords:women’s occupation, actual and ideal number of children, role incompatibility, mass media
Most of the studies that focused on women’s employment and fertility documented an inverse association between women’s labor force participation and fertility, mostly in the context of developed countries. However, it remains unclear whether a similar association exists in lower-income and pro-natalist countries, where the cost of childcare is relatively cheaper. Given this gap in the literature, this study examines the associations of women’s occupation with two outcomes of fertility-related behaviors — actual and ideal number of children in Bangladesh. The study used the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) of Bangladesh. The analysis included 14,318 married women aged 18 years or older. Logistic regression models were used to assess the associations of women’s occupation with the actual and ideal number of children. In general, women’s labor force participation is inversely associated with the actual and ideal number of children in Bangladesh. Compared to non-working women, women in the professional/skilled sector were more likely to have 2 or fewer living children (OR=1.35; 95 % CI=1.16-1.58) and 2 or fewer ideal number of children (OR=1.51; 95 % CI: 1.21-1.88) in the fully adjusted model. Further, the association significantly varies by the levels of exposure to mass media such that women in the professional/skilled sector have a higher probability of having 2 or fewer living children at the higher levels of mass media exposure. The findings have implications for the social and population policies of Bangladesh. Policymakers can promote income-generating activities and encourage women’s participation in economic spheres, which have the potential to lower the fertility and control population growth at the national level.
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