Welfare States, Family Policies, and Fertility in Europe

  • Gerda NeyerEmail author


This contribution discusses the potentials of welfare-state approaches for fertility research in Europe. Demographers mostly concentrate on family policies and their effects on fertility. They usually find no fertility-elevating effects of individual family policies or only small effects on the aggregate level. This has led them to turn their attention instead to welfare states and to national configurations of social and family policies. In this contribution, I argue that welfare-state and single-policy approaches complement each other and that both are needed for a better understanding of fertility developments. I outline the main concepts of the welfare state and their usefulness for fertility research, underlining two aspects in particular: First, the relative persistence of the orientation of a welfare state provides a framework to assess the effects of policies and policy changes across countries and over time. Second, different welfare states are associated with different labor-market and educational systems, which allows us to view fertility behavior within a framework of interrelated complementary institutions.


Labor Market Welfare State Parental Leave Family Policy Welfare Regime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank Tomáš Sobotka and Tomas Frejka for Fig. 3.1 and Tomáš Sobotka for the additional data for Fig. 3.1, as well as Jan Hoem and Gunnar Andersson for editorial advice. I acknowledge financial support by the Linnaeus Center on Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe (SPaDE), grant 349-2007-8701 of the Swedish Research Council.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm University Demography Unit, Department of SociologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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