Advertisement

Preference Theory and Low Fertility: A Comparative Perspective

  • Agnese VitaliEmail author
  • Francesco C. Billari
  • Alexia Prskawetz
  • Maria Rita Testa
Article

Abstract

The discussion on the causes of the most recent fertility decline in Europe, and in particular on the emergence of lowest-low fertility, emphasizes the relevance of cultural factors in addition to economic ones. As part of such a cultural framework, the heterogeneity of preferences concerning the “career vs. family” dichotomy has been systematized in the “Preference Theory” approach developed by Catherine Hakim. This heterogeneity in preferences, however, has so far been underinvestigated in a comparative framework. This paper makes use of comparative data from the 2004/2005 Round of the European Social Survey to test the links between individual-level preferences and both fertility outcomes and fertility intentions, in a variety of societal settings. Results confirm an association between work–family lifestyle preferences and realized fertility in a variety of European countries, while they do not show a relationship between lifestyle preferences and fertility intentions. Results further support the existence of heterogeneous patterns of association between lifestyle preferences and fertility choices among welfare regimes.

Keywords

Preference Theory Low and lowest-low fertility Europe European Social Survey Welfare regime 

Résumé

Le débat portant sur les causes de la baisse la plus récente de la fécondité en Europe, et en particulier sur l’émergence des fécondités les plus basses met l’accent sur le rôle des facteurs culturels, par-delà les facteurs économiques. Dans le cadre de ces facteurs culturels, l’hétérogénéité des préférences en matière de dilemme «carrière ou famille» a été formalisé par Catherine Hakim sous la forme de la «théorie des préférences». Cette hétérogénéité des préférences a toutefois été peu explorée dans une perspective comparative. Cet article exploite les données comparatives de la vague 2004/2005 de l’Enquête Sociale Européenne pour tester les liens entre les préférences individuelles, d’une part, et la fécondité réelle et souhaitée, d’autre part, dans des contextes sociaux très divers. Les résultats confirment une association entre les préférences en matière de mode de vie par rapport au travail et à la famille et la fécondité réelle dans toute une série de pays européens, mais ne mettent pas en évidence de lien entre les préférences en matière de mode de vie et la fécondité souhaitée. De plus, les résultats confirment l’existence de schémas hétérogènes d’association entre les préférences en matière de modes de vie et les choix de fécondité dans les différents régimes d’Etat-providence.

Mots-clés

Théorie des préférences Fécondités les plus basses Europe Enquête Sociale Européenne Régime d’Etat-providence 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research has been funded by the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities) under the Project “Fertility intentions and outcomes: The role of policies to close the gap” (VS/2006/0685). The main parts of the paper were written while the first author visited the Vienna Institute of Demography. We are grateful to Laurent Toulemon for comments and suggestions, as well to the participants of the 2007 Annual Conference of the Population Association of America (New York) and to the “Demosoc” seminar at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona for useful comments.

References

  1. Aassve, A., Billari, F. C., & Piccarreta, R. (2007). Strings of adulthood: A sequence analysis of young British women’s work–family trajectories. European Journal of Population, 23, 369–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adsera, A. (2005). Where are the babies? Labour market conditions and fertility in Europe. IZA Discussion Paper 1576.Google Scholar
  3. Ahn, N., & Mira, P. (2002). A note on the changing relationship between fertility and female employment rates in developed countries. Journal of Population Economics, 15, 667–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beets, G., Liefbroer, A. C., & de Gierveld, G. Jong. (1999). Changes in fertility values and behaviour: A life course perspective. In R. Leete (Ed.), Dynamics of values in fertility change (pp. 100–120). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  5. Butz, W. P., & Ward, M. P. (1979). The emergence of countercyclical U.S. fertility. American Economic Review, 69, 318–328.Google Scholar
  6. Caldwell, J. C., & Schindlmayr, T. (2003). Explanations of the fertility crisis in modern societies: A search for commonalities. Population Studies, 57(3), 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Castles, F. G. (2003). The world turned upside down: Below replacement fertility, changing preferences and family–friendly public policy in 21 OECD countries. Journal of European Social Policy, 13(3), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Commission of the European Communities. (2005). Green Paper “Confronting demographic change: A new solidarity between the generations”. Brussels: Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  9. Crompton, R., & Harris, F. (1998). Explaining women’s employment patterns: ‘Orientations to work’ revisited. British Journal of Sociology, 49(1), 118–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Demeny, P. (2003). Population policy dilemmas in Europe at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Population and Development Review, 29(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Doorewaard, H., Hendrickx, J., & Verschuren, P. (2004). Work orientations of female returners. Work, Employment and Society, 18(1), 7–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  13. Esping-Andersen, G., Gallie, D., Hemerijk, A., & Myles, J. (2002). Why we need a new welfare state. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fagan, C. (2001). Time money and gender order: Work orientations and working-time preferences in Britain. Gender, Work and Organization, 8(3), 239–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferrera, M. (1998). Le Trappole del welfare. Bologna: Il Mulino.Google Scholar
  16. Ferrera, M., Hemerijk, A. & Rhodes M. (2000). The future of the European welfare state: Managing diversity for a prosperous and cohesive Europe. Report for the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, Conference on Europe, Globalization and the Future of Social Policy.Google Scholar
  17. Gauthier, A. H. (2002). Family policies in industrialized countries: Is there convergence. Population, 57(3), 447–474.Google Scholar
  18. Hakim, C. (2000). Work-lifestyle choices in the 21st century: Preference theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hakim, C. (2002). Lifestyle preferences as determinants of women’s differentiated labour market careers. Work and Occupations, 29(4), 428–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hakim, C. (2003a). Models of the family in modern societies: Ideals and realities. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  21. Hakim, C. (2003b). A new approach to explaining fertility patterns: Preference theory. Population and Development Review, 29(3), 349–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hakim, C. (2003c). Public morality versus personal choice: The failure of social attitude surveys. British Journal of Sociology, 54(3), 339–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hakim, C. (2008). Diversity in tastes, values, and preferences: Comment on Jonung and Ståhlberg. Econ Journal Watch, 5(2), 204–218.Google Scholar
  24. Kohler, H. P., Billari, F. C., & Ortega, J. A. (2002). The emergence of lowest-low fertility in europe during the 1990s. Population and Development Review, 28(4), 641–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lesthaeghe, R. (1983). A century of demographic and cultural change in Western Europe: An exploration of underlying dimensions. Population and Development Review, 9(3), 411–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lesthaeghe, R., & Surkyn, J. (1988). Cultural and economic theories of fertility change. Population and Development Review, 13(1), 1–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McDonald, P. (2002). Sustaining fertility through public policy: The range of options. Population, 57(3), 417–446.Google Scholar
  28. McRae, S. (2003a). Constraints and choices in mothers’ employment careers: A consideration of Hakim’s Preference Theory. British Journal of Sociology, 54(3), 317–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McRae, S. (2003b). Choices and constraints in mothers’ employment careers: McRae replies to Hakim. British Journal of Sociology, 54(4), 585–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Miller, W. B., & Pasta, D. J. (1995). Behavioural intentions: Which ones predict fertility behaviour in married couples? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25, 530–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Procter, I., & Padfield, M. (1999). Work orientations and women’s work: A critique of Hakim’s theory of the heterogeneity of women. Gender, Work and Organization, 6(3), 152–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rabušic, L. C. & Manea, B. E. (2006). Preference Theory—The case of the Czech Republic. Paper for the European Population Conference in Liverpool, UK, 21–24 June 2006.Google Scholar
  33. Reher, D. S. (1998). Family ties in Western Europe: Persistent contrasts. Population and Development Review, 24(2), 203–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rose, M. (2001). Closing down a work career. Housework, employment plans, and womens work attitudes. ESRC Working Paper 1. Transitions and Careers, University of Bath.Google Scholar
  35. Stark, L., & Kohler, H. P. (2002). The debate over low fertility in the popular press: A cross-national comparison, 1998–1999. Population and Policy Review, 21(6), 535–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Surkyn, J. & Lesthaeghe, R. (2004). Value orientations and the second demographic transition (SDT) in Northern, Western and Southern Europe: An update. Demographic Research. Special Collection 3, Article 3. Online available at: http://www.demographic-research.org/.
  37. Testa, M. R., & Grilli, L. (2006). The influence of childbearing regional contexts on ideal family size in Europe. Population, 61(1–2), 109–138.Google Scholar
  38. Tomlinson, J. (2006). Women’s work-life balance trajectories in the UK: reformulating choice and constraint in transitions through part-time work across the life-course. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 34(3), 365–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Van de Kaa, D. J. (1987). Europe’s second demographic transition. Population Bulletin, 42(1), 1–57.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agnese Vitali
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francesco C. Billari
    • 2
  • Alexia Prskawetz
    • 3
    • 4
  • Maria Rita Testa
    • 3
  1. 1.Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social DynamicsUniversità BocconiMilanItaly
  2. 2.Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, IMQ and IGIERUniversità BocconiMilanItaly
  3. 3.Vienna Institute of DemographyAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  4. 4.Institute of Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Unit EconomicsVienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations