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From Empty Pews to Empty Cradles: Fertility Decline Among European Catholics

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  • Eli Berman
  • Laurence R. Iannaccone
  • Giuseppe Ragusa

Abstract

Catholic countries of Europe pose a demographic puzzle –fertility is unprecedentedly low (total fertility=1.3) despite low female labor force participation. We model three channels of religious effects on demand for children: through changing norms, reduced market wages, and reduced costs of childrearing. We estimate their effects using new panel data on church attendance and clergy employment for thirteen European countries from 1960-2000, spanning the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Catholic theology is uniform across countries. Yet service varied considerably across countries and over time, especially before the Council, reflecting differences in Church provision of education, health, welfare and other social services. We use differential declines in service provision --measured by nuns/capita-- to identify its effect on fertility, controlling for secular trends. They are large: 300 to 400 children per nun. Reduced religiosity (measured by church attendance) has no effect for Protestants, but predicts fertility decline for Catholics. The data suggest that service provision and religiosity complement each other –a finding consistent with preferential provision of services to church attendees. Nuns outperform priests in predicting fertility, suggesting that the childrearing cost channel dominates theology and norms.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18350.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18350

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  1. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
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  3. Reuben Gronau, 1976. "Leisure, Home Production and Work--The Theory of The Allocation of Time Revisited," NBER Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Ross Stolzenberg & Mary Blair-Loy & Linda J. Waite, . "Religious Participation Over the Early Life Course: Age and Family Life Cycle Effects on Church Membership," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 94-14, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  6. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  7. Charles Westoff & Elise Jones, 1979. "The end of “Catholic” fertility," Demography, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 209-217, May.
  8. Paola Giuliano, 2005. "Living Arrangements in Western Europe: Does Cultural Origin Matter?," 2005 Meeting Papers 189, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Bettio, Francesca & Villa, Paola, 1998. "A Mediterranean Perspective on the Breakdown of the Relationship between Participation and Fertility," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 137-71, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Oliveira, Livio Luiz Soares de & Neto, Giácomo Balbinotto & Cortes, Renan Xavier, 2012. "Quem vai à igreja? Um teste de regressão logística ordenada do modelo de Azzi-Ehrenberg para o Brasil
    [Who goes to church: A test of the ordered logistic regression model of Azzi-Ehrenberg to Br
    ," MPRA Paper 45092, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Mayssun El-Attar, 2013. "Trust, child care technology choice and female labor force participation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 507-544, December.
  3. Huber, John D. & Stanig, Piero, 2011. "Church-state separation and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 828-836.
  4. Daniela Del Boca & Marilena Locatelli, 2006. "The Determinants of Motherhood and Work Status: a Survey," CHILD Working Papers wp15_06, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  5. Lozano, Fernando A., 2012. "What Happened to God's Time? The Evolution of Secularism and Hours of Work in America, Evidence from Religious Holidays," IZA Discussion Papers 6552, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Lehrer, Evelyn L., 2008. "The Role of Religion in Economic and Demographic Behavior in the United States: A Review of the Recent Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 3541, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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