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

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  • Eli BERMAN

    (University of California San Diego)

  • Laurence R. IANNACCONE

    (Chapman University)

  • Giuseppe RAGUSA

    (European Central Bank)

Abstract

Total fertility in the Catholic countries of Southern Europe has dropped to remarkably low rates (=1.4) despite continuing low rates female labor force participation and high historic fertility. We model three ways in which religion affects the demand for children – through norms, market wages, and childrearing costs. We estimate these effects using new panel data on church attendance and clergy employment for 13 European countries from 1960 to 2000, spanning the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Using nuns per capita as a proxy for service provision, we estimate fertility effects on the order of 300 to 400 children per nun. Moreover, nuns outperform priests as a predictor of fertility, suggesting that changes in childrearing costs dominate changes in theology and norms. Reduced church attendance also predicts fertility decline, but only for Catholics, not for Protestants. Service provision and attendance complement each other, a finding consistent with club models of religion.

Suggested Citation

  • Eli BERMAN & Laurence R. IANNACCONE & Giuseppe RAGUSA, 2018. "From Empty Pews to Empty Cradles: Fertility Decline among European Catholics," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 149-187, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvde:v:84:y:2018:i:2:p:149-187
    DOI: 10.1017/dem.2017.22
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    3. Gihleb, Rania & Giuntella, Osea, 2017. "Nuns and the effects of catholic schools. Evidence from Vatican II," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 191-213.
    4. Sandra Brée & David de la Croix, 2019. "Key forces behind the decline of fertility: lessons from childlessness in Rouen before the industrial revolution," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 13(1), pages 25-54, January.
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    6. David de la Croix & Clara Delavallade, 2018. "Religions, Fertility, And Growth In Southeast Asia," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(2), pages 907-946, May.
    7. Maryam Dilmaghani, 2021. "Deep-Level Religious Diversity and Work-Life Balance Satisfaction in Canada," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 16(1), pages 315-350, February.
    8. de la Croix, David & Perrin, Faustine, 2018. "How far can economic incentives explain the French fertility and education transition?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 221-245.
    9. Jan Fałkowski & Przemysław Kurek, 2020. "The transformation of supreme values: Evidence from Poland on salvation through civic engagement," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 185(1), pages 113-129, October.
    10. Dierk Herzer, 2019. "A Note on the Effect of Religiosity on Fertility," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(3), pages 991-998, June.
    11. 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. 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 Brazi," MPRA Paper 45092, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. David de la Croix & Fabio Mariani & Marion Mercier, 2019. "Driven by Institutions, Shaped by Culture: Human Capital and the Secularization of Marriage in Italy," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2019022, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    14. 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.
    15. Noury, Abdul G. & Speciale, Biagio, 2016. "Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 821-841.
    16. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    17. 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Andersen, Thomas Barnebeck & Jensen, Peter Sandholt, 2019. "Preaching democracy: The second Vatican council and the third wave," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 525-540.
    19. David de la Croix & Faustine Perrin, 2016. "French Fertility and Education Transition: Rational Choice vs. Cultural Diffusion," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2016007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Demand for children; Fertility decline; Religion; Vatican II; Identity; Club goods;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General

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