Will remote work promote more family formation?

new paper puts forth a fascinating theory: Maybe remote work is making it easier for couples to become parents—and for parents to have more children.

The economist Adam Ozimek and the demographer Lyman Stone looked at survey data of 3,000 American women from the Demographic Intelligence Family Survey. They concluded that female remote workers were more likely to intend to have a baby than all-office workers, especially if they were richer, older, and more educated. What’s more, remote workers in the survey were more likely to marry in the next year than their nonremote counterparts.

Remote work might promote family formation in a few ways. Remote workers can move more easily, because they don’t have to live within commuting distance of their job. This flexibility might result in more marriages by ending the “two-body problem,” where romantic partners find employment in different cities and must choose between their career and their relationship. What’s more, remote work reduces commutes, and those weekly hours can be shifted to family time, making it easier to start or grow a family.

Fertility is an awkward topic for journalists, because starting a family is such a complicated and intimate decision. But fertility rates aren’t declining simply because more people are choosing not to have children—American women report having fewer kids than they want, as Stone has documented in previous research. If remote work is subtly restructuring the contours of life to enable more women to have the families they want, that’s great news.

That is all from Derek Thompson at The Atlantic.


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