In previous years, there has been a decrease in the number of babies born each year. However, in the US, people started having more children in 2020, which may have been affected by the increase in remote work.
Economist Adam Ozimek and demographer Lyman Stone evaluated information from the Demographic Intelligence Family Survey pertaining to 3,000 American women. They came to the conclusion that women who worked remotely were more likely to want a child than women who worked exclusively in offices, particularly if they were wealthier, older, and more educated. Also, compared to non-remote employees, people working from home were more likely to get married in the upcoming year.
Increased Benefits of Working Remotely
Additionally, there are a few ways that remote employment may aid in family formation. Since they aren’t obligated to live close to their place of employment, remote workers have more ability to travel. Moreover, this resolves the “two-body dilemma.” Typically, this problem arises when romantic partners who land jobs in various places must choose between their love and their career. Because of this flexibility, there might be more weddings. This issue typically occurs when couples who land jobs in different places must choose between their relationship and their work.
Due to how difficult and personal deciding to start a family is, discussing fertility can be uncomfortable. Yet as Stone has previously shown, American women report having fewer babies than they want, so the decline in fertility rates isn’t just due to more individuals opting not to have children. If remote employment is gradually changing the parameters of life to allow more women to have the families they desire, that’s especially exciting.
It’s important to highlight that remote work doesn’t always lead to women starting their families, but it can benefit older mothers in juggling the conflicting demands of work and family.
Potential Obstacles Related to Remote Work
Nonetheless, this study confirms that we are only now starting to understand the effects of remote employment on the American economy. In large cities in other countries, such as France and Japan, the return-to-office rate has reached 75%. Yet, weekly office occupancy rates in the US are below 50%. Half-empty offices are leading to declining transit use and depression-level demand for commercial real estate in many US downtowns.
Currently, remote employment is encouraging many Americans to purchase ever-larger houses to accommodate home offices and gyms. Particularly in the suburbs, this is causing housing prices to rise. In America, the distribution of talent is beginning to change as a result of remote start-ups, allowing more IT employees to settle down and even establish hubs in cities inland.
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The Atlantic. (2023, March 7). The surprising effects of remote work. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2023/03/us-remote-work-impact-fertility-rate-babies/673301/