From Empty Pews to Empty Cradles: Fertility Decline Among European Catholics
AbstractCatholic 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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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
- H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
- I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets
- Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-09-09 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEM-2012-09-09 (Demographic Economics)
- NEP-EUR-2012-09-09 (Microeconomic European Issues)
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