Does family policy affect fertility?
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From the mid-1960s to around 1980, Sweden extended its family policies that provide financial and in-kind support to families with children very quickly. The benefits were closely tied to previous work experience. Thus, women born in the 1950s faced markedly different incentives when making fertility choices compared to women born only 15–20 years earlier. This paper examines the evolution of completed fertility patterns for Swedish women born in 1925–1958 and makes comparisons to women in neighbouring countries where the policies were not extended as much as in Sweden. The results suggest that the extension of the policy raised the level of fertility, shortened the spacing of births, and induced fluctuations in the period fertility rates, but it did not change the negative relationship between women’s educational level and completed fertility.
KeywordsFertility Family policy Comparative studies
JEL ClassificationJ13 J18 D13
This is a revised and updated version of my presidential address at the ESPE-2001 meetings in Athens. I am grateful to several national experts for help and advice with data collection for this paper. By country, these are Belgium, Ron Lesthaeghe; Denmark, Lisbeth Knudsen, Jørn Korsbø Petersen and Nina Smith; France, Fabienne Daguet; Germany, Michaela Kreyenfeld and Thorsten Schneider; Netherlands, Gijs Beets and Jan Latten; Norway, Helge Brunnborg and Trude Lappegård; and Sweden, Gun Alm-Stenflo and Elisabeth Landgren-Möller. I also thank Gunnar Andersson, Thomas Aronsson, Lena Edlund, Jan Hoem, Per Molander, Marianne Sundström, and Mårten Palme for many valuable discussions about the paper’s topics. Three referees provided most valuable comments. Despite all help and suggestions, the usual disclaimer applies. Swedish Council for Social Research and Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research provided financial support.
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