The impact of family policies on fertility in industrialized countries: a review of the literature
- 5.1k Downloads
This paper examines the theoretical propositions and empirical evidence linking policies and fertility. More specifically, the analysis presented in this paper draws attention to the complex mechanisms that theoretically link policies and demographic outcomes: mechanisms that involve imperfect information and decisions that are rationally bound by very specific circumstances. As to the empirical evidence, studies provide mixed conclusions as to the effect of policies on fertility. While a small positive effect of policies on fertility is found in numerous studies, no statistically significant effect is found in others. Moreover, some studies suggest that the effect of policies tends to be on the timing of births rather than on completed fertility.
KeywordsDemography Fertility Public policy
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the ESF/EURESCO conference “The Second Demographic Transition in Europe” (Bad Herrenalb, Germany, 23–28 June 2001) while a condensed version was presented as part of a plenary debate at the IUSSP conference (Tours July 2005). I am grateful to the participants of these conferences for their comments and to the anonymous referees of this journal. Finally, many thanks to my research assistants, Monetta Bailey and Alyssa Borkosky, for their help in searching and reviewing the literature.
- Andersson, G., Hoem, J. M., & Duvander, A.-Z. (2006). Social differentials in speed-premium effects in childbearing in Sweden. Demographic Research, 14(4), 51–70.Google Scholar
- Becker, G. S. (1981). A Treatise on the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Becker, G. S. (1996). Accounting for tastes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Becker, G. S., & Murphy, K. M. (2000). Social economics: Market behavior in a social environment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Blanchet, D., & Ekert-Jaffé, O. (1994). The demographic impact of fertility benefits: Evidence from a micro-model and from macro-data. In J. Ermisch & N. Ogawa (Eds.), The family, the market and the state in ageing societies (pp. 79–104). Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Blossfeld, H. P., & Prein, G. (Eds.). (1998). Rational choice theory and large-scale data analysis. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Bongaarts, J. (1998). Fertility and reproductive preferences in post-transitional societies. Population Council. Retrieved from http://www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/wp/114.pdf.
- Chesnais, J.-C. (1987). When one people becomes two: One Germany and the other [Quand un peuple en devient deux: Une Allemagne et l’autre]. Population et Sociétés, 209, 1–4.Google Scholar
- Cigno, A. (1991). Economics of the family. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Cuyvers, P., & Kiely, G. (2000). The family roller-coaster ride. Family Observer, 2, 4–12.Google Scholar
- Del Boca, D., Aaberge, R., Colombino, U., Ermisch, J., Francesconi, M., Pasqua, S., & Strom, S. (2003). Labour market participation of women and fertility: The effect of social policies. Paper presented at the FRDB Child conference. Alghero (June).Google Scholar
- Demeny, P. (1987). Pronatalist policies in low-fertility countries: Patterns, performance, and prospects. In K. Davis, M. S. Bernstam, & R. Ricardo-Campbell (Eds.), Below-replacement fertility in industrial societies:Causes, consequences, policies. Population and development review (Vol. 12, Supplement, pp. 335–358).Google Scholar
- Duclos, E., Lefebvre, P., & Merrigan, P. (2001). A natural experiment on the economics of storks: Evidence on the impact of differential family policy on fertility rates in Canada. Center for Research on Economic Fluctuations and Employment, working paper no. 136. Université du Québec à Montréal.Google Scholar
- Dumont, G.-F., & Descroix, P. (1988). La spécificité du comportement démographique de la France: Mesure de la surfécondité relative de la France par rapport aux autres pays industriels à faible fécondité précoce de 1963 à 1986. Histoire, Economie et Société, 419–432.Google Scholar
- Easton, A. (2005). Polish women offered baby bonus. BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4567224.stm.
- Ekert-Jaffé, O., Joshi, H., Lynch, K., Mougin, R., & Rendall, M. (2002). Fécondité, calendrier des naissances et milieu social en France et en Grande-Bretagne: Politiques sociales et polarisation socioprofessionnelle. Population-F, 57(3), 485–518.Google Scholar
- Ermisch, J. (1986). Impacts of policy actions on the family and household. Journal of Public Policy, 6(3), 297–318.Google Scholar
- Evans, J. M. (2002). Work/family reconciliation, gender wage equity and occupational segregation: The role of firms and public policy. Canadian Public Policy, 28(Supplement), 187–216.Google Scholar
- European Commission. (1990). European public opinion on the family and the desire for children. Eurobarometer 32. Brussels, Belgium: Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
- Finch, N., & Bradshaw, J. (2003). Fertility and supporting the costs of children. Paper presented at the conference Recent fertility trends in Northern Europe, Oslo, Norway, May 2003.Google Scholar
- Gauthier, A. H. (1996). The measured and unmeasured effects of welfare benefits on families: Consequences for Europe’s demographic trends. In D. Coleman (Ed.), Europe’s population in the 1990s (pp. 297–331). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Gauthier, A. H. (2005). Trends in policies for family-friendly societies. In M. Macura, A. L. MacDonald, & W. Haug (Eds.), The new demographic regime: Population challenges and policy responses (pp. 95–110). New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
- George, J. (2000). Babies having babies: An explosion of infants born to teenage mothers. Nunatsiaq News, May 19, 2000. Retrieved from http://www.nunatsiaq.com/archives/nunavut000531/nvt20519_01.html.
- Goldthorpe, J. (2000). On sociology; Numbers, narratives, and the integration of research and theory. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hecht, J., & Leridon, H. (1993). Fertility policies: A limited influence? In D. Noin & R. Woods (Eds.), The changing population of Europe (pp. 62–75). Cambridge MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Hoem, J. M. (2005). Why does Sweden have such high fertility?. Demographic Research, 13(22), 559–572.Google Scholar
- Japan, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (1999). Annual reports on Health and Welfare 1998–1999: Social Security and National Life. Tokyo, Japan. Retrieved from http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/wp/wp-hw/vol1/p2c5s1.html.
- Joyce, T., Kaestner, R., Korenman, S., & Henshaw, S. (2005). Family cap provisions and changes in births and abortions. Population Research and Policy Review, 23(5–6), 475–511.Google Scholar
- Kamaras, F., Kocourkova, J., & Moors, H. (1998). The impact of social policies on reproductive behavior. In R. Palomba & H. Moors (Eds.), Population, family and welfare: A comparative survey of European attitudes (Vol. 2, pp. 242–261). Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Kennedy, F. (2003). Italy offers families baby cash. BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/3252794.stm.
- Lalive, R., & Zweimuller, J. (2005). Does parental leave affect fertility and return-to-work? Evidence from a “true natural experiment”. IZA (Institute for the Study of Labor). Discussion paper no.1613. Retrieved from http://www.iza.org/publications/dps/.
- Laroque, G., & Salanie, B. (2005). Does fertility respond to financial incentives? Retrieved from http://www.crest.fr/pageperso/lei/slanie/p140205.pdf.
- Livi Bacci, M. (2001). Comment: Desired family size and the future of fertility. In R. A. Bulatao & J. B. Casterline, J.B. (Eds.), Global fertility transition, Supplement to Population and Development Review 27, 282–289.Google Scholar
- Mathieson, S. (2003). Labor pledges new baby bonus plan. The Age. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/14/1071336812201.html.
- McDonald, P. (2000). Gender equity, social institutions and the future of fertility. Journal of Population Research, 17(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
- McNicoll, G. (1998). Government and fertility in transitional and post-transitional societies. Population Council Working Paper. Retrieved from http://www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/wp/113.pdf.
- Milligan, K. (2002). Quebec’s baby bonus: Can public policy raise fertility? C.D. Howe Institute. Backgrounder. Jan 24, 2002. Retrieved from: http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/Milligan_Backgrounder.pdf.
- Monnier, A. (1990). The effects of family policies in the German Democratic Republic: A re-evaluation. Population: An English Selection, 2, 127–140.Google Scholar
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. (2001). Balancing work and family life: Helping parents into employment. OECD Employment Outlook, June, 129–166.Google Scholar
- Palomba, R., Bonifazi, C., & Menniti, A. (1989). Demographic trends, population policy and public opinion. Genus, 45(3/4), 37–54.Google Scholar
- Popenoe, D. (1988). Disturbing the nest: Sweden and the decline of families in modern society. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Randall, C. (2005, September 20). Educated French paid to have more babies. The National Post.Google Scholar
- Rasul, I. (2002). Household bargaining over fertility: Theory and evidence from Malaysia. Job market paper, London School of Economics.Google Scholar
- Ronsen, M. (1999). Impacts on fertility and female employment of parental leave programs: Evidence from three Nordic countries. Paper presented at the European Population Conference, the Hague, Netherlands, August/September 1999.Google Scholar
- Ross, C. (2005). Saving for your children. BBC News. 21 September 2005. Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/business/3112942.stm.
- Salmi, M., & Lammi-Taskula, J. (1999). Parental leave in Finland. In P. Moss & F. Deven (Eds.), Parental leave: Progress or pitfall? (pp. 85–122). Brussels, Belgium: CBGS.Google Scholar
- Sleebos, J. (2003). Low fertility rates in OECD countries: Facts and policy responses. OECD social, employment and migration working papers no.15. Paris, France: OECD.Google Scholar
- Stropnik, N. (2001). Reliability of a policy acceptance and attitude survey for formulating family and population policy. Paper presented at the IUSSP General Population Conference, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, 20–24 August 2001.Google Scholar
- Switzerland Statistics. (1997). La famille en Suisse: Tradition et transitions. Press release. 13 February 1997. Retrieved from: http://www.statistik.admin.ch/news/archiv97/fp97005.htm.
- Tanisha Dyer, W., & Fairlie, R. W. (2005). Do family caps reduce out-of-wedlock births? Evidence from Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey and Virginia. Population Research and Policy Review, 23(5–6), 441–473.Google Scholar
- Vikat, A. (2004). Women’s labor force attachment and childbearing in Finland. Demographic Research, Special collection 3, article 8.Google Scholar
- Whittington, L. A., Alm, J., & Peters, H. E. (1990). Fertility and the personal exemption: Implicit pronatalist policy in the United States. The American Review, 80(3), 545–556.Google Scholar