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Institutions and the transition to adulthood: Implications for fertility tempo in low-fertility settings

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  • Ronald R. Rindfuss
  • Sarah R. Brauner-Otto
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    Abstract

    The number of countries experiencing very low fertility has been rising in recent years, garnering increasing academic, political and media attention. There is now widespread academic agreement that the postponement of fertility is a major contributing factor in the very low levels of fertility that have occurred, and yet most policy discussions have been devoted to increasing the numbers of children women have. We discuss factors in three institutions--the educational system, the labour market and the housing market--that may inadvertently have led to childbearing postponement. We highlight important components of the timing of childbearing, including its changing place within the transition to adulthood across countries and the significance of the demands of childbearing versus childrearing. Using illustrations from Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, we argue that the following all lead to younger childbearing: 1) an open education system whereby it is relatively easy to return to school after having dropped out for a while; 2) a shorter, smoother, easier school-to-work transition; 3) easier re-entry into the labour market after having taken time out for childrearing or any other reason; 4) greater capability of integrating childrearing into a career; 5) easier ability to obtain a mortgage with a moderately small down payment, moderately low interest rate and a long time period over which to repay the loan; and 6) easier ability to rent a dwelling unit at an affordable price. Conversely, reversing any or all of these factors would lead, other things being equal, to postponement of childbearing.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna in its journal Vienna Yearbook of Population Research.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 57-87

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    Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:57-87

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    Web page: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/

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    1. repec:ese:iserwp:2005-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ermisch, John, 1999. "Prices, Parents, and Young People's Household Formation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 47-71, January.
    3. Zhu Xiao Di & Xiaodong Liu, 2006. "The Effects of Housing Push Factors and Rent Expectations on Household Formation of Young Adults," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, American Real Estate Society, vol. 28(2), pages 149-166.
    4. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 2002. "Information sharing, lending and defaults: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(10), pages 2017-2045, October.
    5. Maria Concetta Chiuri & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Financial Market Imperfections and Home Ownership: A Comparative Study," CSEF Working Papers, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy 44, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 01 Dec 2000.
    6. Olivia Ekert-Jaffé & Heather Joshi & Kevin Lynch & Rémi Mougin & Michael Rendall, 2002. "Fertility, Timing of Births and Socio-economic Status in France and Britain. Social Policies and Occupational Polarization," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 57(3), pages 475-507.
    7. Angelika Tölke & Martin Diewald, 2003. "Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 9(3), pages 41-68, September.
    8. S. Philip Morgan & Ronald Rindfuss, 1999. "Reexamining the link of early childbearing to Marriage and to subsequent fertillty," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 59-75, February.
    9. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    10. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
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    12. Nancy Folbre & Jayoung Yoon & Kade Finnoff & Allison Fuligni, 2005. "By what measure? family time devoted to children in the united states," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 373-390, May.
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