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The public perception and discussion of falling birth rates: the recent debate over low fertility in the popular press

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Author Info

  • Laura Stark

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Hans-Peter Kohler

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    Aspects of below-replacement fertility have long been debated among academics. Analyzing 437 popular newspaper and magazine articles from eleven developed countries during 1998-99, this study documents and investigates the corresponding public debate about low fertility. Despite the diversity in the debates of eleven countries, due to the countries´ different socioeconomic, political and demographic backrounds, our study finds important commonalties of the public debates about low fertility: First, countries emphasize consequences and potential interventions rather than causes in their public debate over lover fertility. Second, our study undoubtedly reveals that the public media perceives low fertility as a serious concern with mostly negative implications, despite the fact that many of the causes of low fertility are associated with social and economic progress. Third, the variety of issues and perspectives revealed in the public debate, while cohesive in general ways, invites a role for demographers in informing an accurate public discussion of low fertility, which will help form the most appropriate policy outcomes. (AUTHORS)

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/Papers/Working/wp-2000-009.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2000-009.

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    Length: - pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2000-009

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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    1. Hans-Peter Kohler & Joseph L. Rodgers & Kaare Christensen, 1999. "Is Fertility Behavior in Our Genes? Findings from a Danish Twin Study," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(2), pages 253-288.
    2. Joseph Hotz, V. & Klerman, Jacob Alex & Willis, Robert J., 1993. "The economics of fertility in developed countries," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 275-347 Elsevier.
    3. Caroline Foster, 2000. "The Limits to Low Fertility: A Biosocial Approach," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(2), pages 209-234.
    4. Hans-Peter Kohler & Dimiter Philipov, 2001. "Variance effects in the bongaarts-feeney formula," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 1-16, February.
    5. Ron Lesthaeghe & Paul Willems, 1999. "Is Low Fertility a Temporary Phenomenon in the European Union?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(2), pages 211-228.
    6. Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, Alexia & Hoem, Jan Michael & Neyer, Gerda, 1999. "Third Births in Austria: the Effect of Public Policies, Educational Attainment and Labour-Force Attachment," CEPR Discussion Papers 2162, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Macunovich, D.J., 1996. "Relative Income and Price of Time: Exploring their effcts on U.S. Fertility and Female Labor Force Participation, 1963-1993," Department of Economics Working Papers 174, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    8. Ronald Lee, 2000. "Long-Term Population Projections and the US Social Security System," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(1), pages 137-143.
    9. Karsten Hank & Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2000. "Does the availability of childcare influence the employment of mothers? Findings from western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2000-003, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    10. John Bongaarts & Griffith Feeney, 2000. "On the Quantum and Tempo of Fertility: Reply," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 560-564.
    11. Antonio Golini, 1998. "Demographics, Public Spending and Social Programs," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 12(1), pages 119-143, 03.
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