Work-related travel over the life course and its link to fertility: A comparison between four European countries

Heiko Rüger, Gil Viry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contemporary societies, travelling intensively to and for work has become an important part in many people’s lives. A life course approach suggests that spatial mobility may, however, conflict with other life domains such as fertility, especially for women. Using longitudinal survey data from France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, our study provides novel evidence that the interdependence of fertility and work-related spatial mobility behaviours is largely shaped by national contexts. Based on innovative techniques of sequence analysis, our results indicate that long-term experiences of daily and weekly long-distance commuting and overnight work travel are associated with lower fertility mainly among women in Germany and Switzerland. In France and Spain, the association is weaker or absent. Interestingly, male overnight travellers in Germany and Switzerland show similar tendencies. These men have a comparatively lower fertility than other men, although the cross-national differences are less pronounced than among women. Our study discusses the role of national family policies, social norms and labour market structures in facilitating or hindering the reconciliation between fertility and work-related spatial mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645–660
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number5
Early online date23 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • work-related geographical mobility
  • fertility
  • sequence analysis
  • life course
  • long-distance commuting
  • spatial mobility
  • work-related travel
  • cross-national comparison


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