Mutual Influences Between Motherhood and Educational Attainment in Selected Eastern European Countries

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Abstract

Women are spending an ever longer part of their lives enrolled in education programs. A crucial question in this context is how motherhood can be reconciled and correlated with continued investment in human capital. A related question concerns the role the socioeconomic context plays in the education/family life balance. In the present study we account for the finding that a pregnancy resulting in a first birth usually triggers the termination of formal education, and, conversely, that the completion of education is often followed by a first birth. We use a simultaneous-hazard two-equation model, controlling for common potential but unobserved determinants. Relative to work already done on these matters, our study extends previous investigations to Eastern European countries which have not been adequately researched so far. To strengthen comparison, we have additionally included two Western European countries. This allowed us to assess the importance of political context. The results show that despite efforts to offer women the possibility of choosing both motherhood and being enrolled in education, the educational policies which were introduced in some Eastern European countries after the fall of communist political regimes could not counteract the negative effects of the transition to a market economy. In these formerly communist countries, the continuation of studies in parallel with childbearing and family formation has become more difficult.

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