Domestic Outsourcing in an Ultra-Low Fertility Context: Employing Live-in Domestic Help and Fertility in Hong Kong

Adam Ka-Lok Cheung, Erin Hye-Won Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The fertility rate in Hong Kong has been very low for decades. Because work–family conflict is one of the major barriers for married couples in actualizing their fertility ideals, domestic outsourcing that relieves women from the burden of domestic labor may help reduce the gap between ideal and actual fertility. Hiring live-in domestic helpers, who co-reside with the hiring families and work on a full-time basis, is gaining popularity in Hong Kong. However, past studies neither inside nor outside of East Asia have examined how employing live-in helpers affects fertility. This study investigates the relationship between live-in helpers and fertility by analyzing retrospective event-history data we collected from a representative survey of married couples in Hong Kong (n = 1697). Our results show that married couples employing live-in helpers tend to have more children than couples not employing live-in helpers. Specifically, the practice is associated with higher odds of first childbirth and of second childbirth, with no evidence of a positive effect beyond bearing a second child. The findings have implications for other East Asian societies, which share similar backgrounds of ultra-low fertility rates, rising female labor force participation rates, rigid gender inequalities in domestic labor, and demanding work cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Childbirth
  • Fertility
  • Foreign domestic workers
  • Housework
  • Outsourcing

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