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Overview Chapter 8: The impact of public policies on European fertility

  • Jan M. Hoem

    (Stockholm University)

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    This chapter outlines the positions in the current debate about the possibility of using public policies to influence fertility. We note the polarization between, on the one hand, those who view public policies as obvious means for lifting the currently low fertility levels in Europe, in line with the role of economic policies in a modern society; and, on the other hand, those who feel that family policies are inefficient, and perhaps even unnecessary. We place the contributions of the national chapters of this book in this framework and describe the formidable methodological difficulties that face those who seek to investigate policy impacts on fertility behavior. While properly conducted empirical investigations have overcome such problems and have clearly demonstrated policy effects in specific circumstances, we conclude that, in general, national fertility is possibly best seen as a systemic outcome that depends more on broader attributes, such as the degree of family-friendliness of a society, and less on the presence and detailed construction of monetary benefits.

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    Article provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its journal Demographic Research.

    Volume (Year): 19 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 10 (July)
    Pages: 249-260

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    Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:19:y:2008:i:10
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    1. Jan M. Hoem, 2005. "Why does Sweden have such high fertility?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(22), pages 559-572, November.
    2. Ronald Rindfuss & David Guilkey & S. Morgan & Øystein Kravdal & Karen Guzzo, 2007. "Child care availability and first-birth timing in Norway," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 345-372, May.
    3. Gunnar Andersson, 2005. "A study on policies and practices in selected countries that encourage childbirth: the case of Sweden," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2005-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    4. Joëlle Sleebos, 2003. "Low Fertility Rates in OECD Countries: Facts and Policy Responses," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 15, OECD Publishing.
    5. Anders Björklund, 2006. "Does family policy affect fertility?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 3-24, February.
    6. Jan M. Hoem, 2005. "Why does Sweden have such high fertility?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2005-009, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    7. Tomas Frejka & Jean-Paul Sardon, 2007. "Cohort birth order, parity progression ratio and parity distribution trends in developed countries," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 16(11), pages 315-374, April.
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