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Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labor market institutions

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During the last two decades fertility rates have decreased and have become positively correlated with female participation rates across OECD countries. I use a panel of 23 OECD nations to study how different labor market arrangements shaped these trends. High unemployment and unstable contracts, common in Southern Europe, depress fertility, particularly of younger women. To increase lifetime income though early skill-acquisition and minimize unemployment risk, young women postpone (or abandon) childbearing. Further, both a large share of public employment, by providing employment stability, and generous maternity benefits linked to previous employment, such as those in Scandinavia, boost fertility of the 25–29 and 30–34 year old women.

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Correspondence to Alícia Adserà.

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Financial help from a CRB grant from the University of Illinois is gratefully acknowledged. I would like to thank Carles Boix, Barry Chiswick, Carmel Chiswick, Evelyn Lehrer, three anonymous referees and seminar participants at ESPE 2000 (Bonn), Illinois Economic Meetings 2000 (Chicago), Simposi d’Analisi Economica 2000 (Barcelona), 2001 Winter meetings of the Econometric Society in New Orleans, ESPE 2001 (Athens), Braga (Portugal), University of Chicago, De Paul University, PAA 2002 (Atlanta) for helpful comments; Gosta Esping-Andersen for providing some data and Cristina Mora for excellent research assistance. Responsible editor: Junsen Zhang.

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Adserà, A. Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labor market institutions. J Popul Econ 17, 17–43 (2004).

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