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France: High and stable fertility

  • Laurent Toulemon

    (Institut national d´études démographiques (INED))

  • Ariane Pailhé

    (Institut national d´études démographiques (INED))

  • Clémentine Rossier

    (Institut national d´études démographiques (INED))

The current total fertility rate in France is around 1.9 children per woman. This is a relatively high level by current European standards and makes France an outlier, despite the fact that its other demographic trends, especially conjugal behaviour, and social and economic trends are not very different from other Western European countries. France can serve as a counterfactual test case for some of the hypotheses advanced to explain the current low level of fertility in most European countries (delay in fertility, decline in marriage, increased birth control, greater economic uncertainty). France’s fertility level can be partly explained by its active family policy introduced after the Second World War, and adapted in the 1980s to accommodate women’s entry into the labour force. This policy is the result of a battle, fuelled by pro-natalism, between the conservative supporters of family values and the promoters of state-supported individual equality. French family policy thus encompasses a wide range of measures based on varying ideological backgrounds, and it is difficult to classify in comparison to the more precisely focused family policies of other European welfare states. The active family policy seems to have created especially positive attitudes towards two- or three child families in France.

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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): 16 (July)
Pages: 503-556

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Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:19:y:2008:i:16
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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  1. Guy Laroque & Bernard Salanié, 2008. "Does Fertility Respond to Financial Incentives ?," Working Papers 2008-10, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  2. Máire Ní Bhrolcháin & Laurent Toulemon, 2005. "Does Postponement Explain the Trend to Later Childbearing in France?," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 3(1), pages 83-107.
  3. Jean-Paul Sardon, 2004. "Recent Demographic Trends in the Developed Countries," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 59(2), pages 263-314.
  4. Francesco C. Billari & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2002. "Patterns of lowest-low fertility in Europe," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-040, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  5. Dimiter Philipov & Henriette Engelhardt & Maria Rita Testa & Maria Winkler-Dworak & Richard Gisser & Tomás Sobotka & Wolfgang Lutz, 2005. "Monthly Estimates of the Quantum of Fertility: Towards a Fertility Monitoring System in Austria," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 3(1), pages 109-141.
  6. Maria Rita Testa & Leonardo Grilli, 2006. "The Influence of Childbearing Regional Contexts on Ideal Family Size in Europe," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 61(1), pages 99-127.
  7. Del Boca, Daniela & Pasqua, Silvia & Pronzato, Chiara D., 2004. "Why Are Fertility and Women's Employment Rates So Low in Italy? Lessons from France and the U.K," IZA Discussion Papers 1274, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. France Prioux, 2005. "Recent Demographic Developments in France," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 60(4), pages 371-414.
  9. Chantal Blayo, 1995. "L'évolution du recours à l'avortement en France depuis 1976," Population (french edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 50(3), pages 779-810.
  10. Ermisch, John & Ogawa, Naohiro (ed.), 1994. "The Family, the Market, and the State in Ageing Societies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288183.
  11. France Prioux, 2003. "Age at First Union in France: A Two-Stage Process of Change," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 58(4), pages 559-578.
  12. Didier Breton & France Prioux, 2005. "Two Children or Three?. Influence of Family Policy and Sociodemographic Factors," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 60(4), pages 415-445.
  13. Laurent Toulemon & Magali Mazuy, 2001. "Les naissances sont retardées mais la fécondité est stable," Population (french edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 56(4), pages 611-644.
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