Eurasian Economic Review

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 51–72 | Cite as

Influence of women’s workforce participation and pensions on total fertility rate: a theoretical and econometric study

  • Tomáš Evan
  • Pavla Vozárová
Original Paper


This paper explores the influence of the two historical and arguably most important correlates of fertility, i.e. female labor participation and pensions. We confirm the long-established negative impact of government provided pensions and all other welfare state social policies except pro-family ones on fertility between 1990 and 2013 in OECD countries. We also claim the reports about positive correlation between female labor participation and fertility, which caused a recent upsurge in research, to be spurious. Our results show a statistically insignificant relationship as a result of pro-family policies designed to offset the negative impact of female labor participation. We conclude that current societies in developed countries continue to have an unsustainable level of reproduction to an extent allowing depopulation, largely due to high and ever increasing female labor participation and a high level of social expenditure, particularly on pensions. We suggest an alternative set of pro-family and pro-natality policies and a decrease in social expenditure as a possible solution.


Fertility Labor market Social government expenditures 

JEL classification

J13 H5 N30 


  1. Adserà, A. (2004). Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labour market institutions. Journal of Population Econ, 17(1), 17–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adserà, A. (2005) Vanishing children: From high unemployment to low fertility in developed countries. The American Economic Review, 95(2), Paper and proceedings of the one hundred seventeenth annual meeting of the American Economic Association, Philadelphia, PA, 189–193.Google Scholar
  3. Barro, J. R. (1974). Are government bonds net wealth? The Journal of Political Economy, 82(6), 1095–1117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker, G. S. (1960) An economic analysis of fertility. In: Universities-National Bureau, Demographic and economic change in developed countries, 209–240.Google Scholar
  5. Boldrin, M. and De Nardi, M. & Jones, L. E. (2005) Fertility and social security. NBER Working Paper No. 11146.Google Scholar
  6. Boling, P. (2008). Demography, culture, and policy: Understanding Japan’s low fertility. Population and Development Review, 34(2), 307–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bongaarts, J. (1978). A framework for analyzing the proximate determinants of fertility. Population and Development Review, 4(1), 105–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bongaarts, J., Cleland, J., Townsend, J. W., Bertrand, J. T., Das Gupta, M. (2012). Family planning programs for the 21st century: Rationale and design. The Population Council.Google Scholar
  9. Bongaarts, J., & Sobotka, T. (2012). A demographic explanation for the recent rise in European fertility. Population and Development Review, 38(1), 83–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Butz, W. P., & Ward, M. P. (1979). Countercyclical U.S. fertility and its implications. Social Security Bulletin, 42(8), 38–43.Google Scholar
  11. Chesnais, J.-C. (1996). Fertility, family, and social policy in contemporary Western Europe. Population and Development Review, 22(4), 729–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. D’Ercole, M. M. & D’Addio, A. C. (2005). Trends and determinants of fertility rates in OECD countries: The role of policies. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers.Google Scholar
  13. Da Rocha, J. S., & Fuster, L. (2006). Why are fertility rates and female employment ratios positively correlated across OECD countries? International Economic Review, 47(4), 1187–1222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Jager, A. (2013). Social welfare policy as an instrument for fertility regulation. Netspar Theses.Google Scholar
  15. Doepke, M., Hazan, M. & Maoz, Y. (2015). The baby boom and World War II: A macroeconomic analysis. NBER Working Paper No. 13707.Google Scholar
  16. Easterlin, R. A. (1973). Does money buy happiness? The Public Interest, 30, 3–10.Google Scholar
  17. Easterlin, R. A. (1980). Birth and fortune: The impact of numbers on personal welfare. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Entwise, B., & Winegarden, C. R. (1984). Fertility and pension programs in LDCs: A model of mutual reinforcement. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 32(2), 331–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. European Commission (2008) Family life and the needs of an aging population: Summary. Flash Eurobarometer 247.Google Scholar
  20. Evan, T. (2014). Chapters of European economic history. Prague: Karolinum Press.Google Scholar
  21. Fenge, R. & Scheubel, B. (2013). Pensions and fertility: Back to the roots. The introduction of Bismarck’s pension scheme and the European fertility decline. CESifo Working Paper No. 4383.Google Scholar
  22. Glowaki, T., & Richmond, A. K. (2007). How government policies influence declining fertility rates in developed countries. Middle States Geographer, 40, 32–38.Google Scholar
  23. Goldstein, J., Sobotka, T., & Jasilioniene, A. (2009). The end of “Lowest-Low” fertility? Population and Development Review, 35(4), 663–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Golini, A. (1998). How low can fertility be? An empirical exploration. Population and Development Review, 24(1), 59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Guinnane, T. W. (2011). The historical fertility transition: A guide for economists. Journal of Economic Literature, 49(3), 589–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hajnal, J. (1965). European marriage patterns in perspective. In D. V. Glass & D. E. Eversley (Eds.), Population in history: Essays in historical demography (pp. 101–143). Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  27. Hohm, C. F. (1975). Social security and fertility: An international perspective. Demography, 12(4), 629–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hyatt, D. E., & Milne, W. J. (1991). Can public policy affect fertility? Canadian Public Policy, 17(1), 77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kalwij, A. (2010). The impact of family policy expenditure on fertility in Western Europe. Demography, 47(2), 503–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Koda, Y., & Uruyos, M. (2015). Altruism and four shades of family relationships. Eurasian Economic Review, 5(2), 345–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kögel, T. (2004). Did the association between fertility and female employment within OECD countries really change its sign? Journal of Population Economics, 17(1), 45–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 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), 641–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lee, R. (2003). The demographic transition: Three centuries of fundamental change. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 17(4), 167–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liebenstein, H. (1957). Economic backwardness and economic growth. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Livingstone, G. (2014). Birth rates lag in Europe and the U.S., but the desire for kids does not. Washington DC: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  36. Lutz, W., Skirbekk, V. and Testa, M.R. (2006). The low-fertility trap hypothesis: forces that may lead to further postponement and fewer births in europe. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vol. 4, Postponement of Childbearing in Europe, pp. 167–192.Google Scholar
  37. Macunovich, D. J. (1998). Relative cohort size and inequality in the United States. American Economic Review, 88(2), 259–264.Google Scholar
  38. McDonald, P. (2007). Low fertility and policy. Ageing Horizons, 7, 22–27.Google Scholar
  39. Michel, P., & Cardia, E. (2004). Altruism, intergenerational transfers of time and bequests. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 28(8), 1681–1701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Morgan, P. S. (2003). Is low fertility a twenty-first-century demographic crisis? Demography, 40(4), 589–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Örsal, D. D. K. & Goldstein, J. R. (2010). The increasing importance of economic conditions on fertility. MPIDR Working Paper WP 2010-014.Google Scholar
  42. Pampel, F. C. (1993). Relative cohort size and fertility: The socio-political context of the Easterlin effect. American Sociological Review, 58(4), 496–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rank, M. R. (1989). Fertility among women of welfare: Incidence and determinants. American Sociological Review, 54(2), 296–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Testa, M. R. (2011). Family sizes in Europe: Evidence from the 2011 Eurobarometer survey. European Demographic Research Papers. Accessed 5 Jul 2016.
  45. United Nations (2015). World population prospects: The 2015 revision. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division.Google Scholar
  46. Van der Zwan, P., Thurik, R., Verheul, I., & Hessels, J. (2016). Factors influencing the entrepreneurial engagement of opportunity and necessity entrepreneurs. Eurasian Business Review, 6(3), 273–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Voigtländer, N. & Voth, H.-J. (2012). How the west ‘invented’ fertility restriction. NBER Working Paper No. 17314.Google Scholar
  48. Walker, J. R (1995). The effect of public policies on recent Swedish fertility behavior. Journal of Population Economics, 8(3), 223–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Willis, R. J. (1973). A new approach to the economic theory of fertility behavior. Journal of Political Economy, 81(2), S14–S64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wright, R. E. (1989). The Easterlin hypothesis and European fertility rates. Population and Development Review, 15(1), 107–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yang, J. (2013). Parochial welfare politics and the small: Welfare state in South Korea. Comparative Politics, 45(4), 457–475.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Eurasia Business and Economics Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FIT CTU, AAUNI and UNYPPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.FIT CTUPragueCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations