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The fertility response to the Great Recession in Europe and the United States: Structural economic conditions and perceived economic uncertainty

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  • Chiara Ludovica Comolli

    (Université de Lausanne)

Abstract

Background: This study further develops Goldstein et al.'s (2013) analysis of the fertility response to the Great Recession in western economies. Objective: The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the fertility reaction to different indicators of the crisis. Beyond the structural labor market conditions, I investigate the dependence of fertility rates on economic policy uncertainty, government financial risk, and consumer confidence. Methods: Following Goldstein et al. (2013), I use log-log models to assess the elasticity of age-, parity-, and education-specific fertility rates to an array of indicators. Besides the inclusion of a wider set of explanatory variables, I include more recent data (2000−2013) and I enlarge the sample to 31 European countries plus the United States. Results: Fertility response to unemployment in some age- and parity-specific groups has been, in more recent years, larger than estimated by Goldstein et al. (2013). Female unemployment has also been significantly reducing fertility rates. Among uncertainty measures, the drop in consumer confidence is strongly related to fertility decline and in Southern European countries the fertility response to sovereign debt risk is comparable to that of unemployment. Economic policy uncertainty is negatively related to TFR even when controlling for unemployment. Conclusions: Theoretical and empirical investigation is needed to develop more tailored measures of economic and financial insecurity and their impact on birth rates. Contribution: The study shows the nonnegligible influence of economic and financial uncertainty on birth rates during the Great Recession in Western economies, over and above that of structural labor market conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiara Ludovica Comolli, 2017. "The fertility response to the Great Recession in Europe and the United States: Structural economic conditions and perceived economic uncertainty," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 36(51), pages 1549-1600.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:36:y:2017:i:51
    DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2017.36.51
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    1. Tomáš Sobotka, 2020. "Introduction: the relevance of studying fertility across time and space," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 18(1), pages 1-24.
    2. Johan Duyck & Jean-Marc Paul & Marie Vandresse, 2018. "Working Paper 01-18 - Perspectives démographiques 2016-2060 : analyses de sensibilité, scénarios alternatifs et effets budgétaires et sociaux [Working Paper 01-18 - Demografische vooruitzichten," Working Papers 1801, Federal Planning Bureau, Belgium.
    3. Chiara L. Comolli & Daniele Vignoli, 2019. "Spread-ing uncertainty, shrinking birth rates," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2019_08, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    4. Astri Syse & Lars Dommermuth & Rannveig K. Hart, 2020. "Does health influence fertility?," Discussion Papers 921, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    5. Nicholas Campisi & Hill Kulu & Julia Mikolai & Sebastian Klüsener & Mikko Myrskylä, 2020. "A spatial perspective on the Nordic fertility decline: the role of economic and social uncertainty in fertility trends," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2020-036, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    6. Trunin Pavel & Bozhechkova Alexandra & Kazenin Konstantin & Lyashok Viktor & Rogozin D. & Vyugovskaya E., 2020. "Monitoring of Russia's Economic Outlook. Trends and Challenges of Socio-economic Development," Monitoring of Russia's Economic Outlook. Trends and Challenges of Socio-Economic Development, Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, issue 12, pages 1-32, July.
    7. Anelli, Massimo & Giuntella, Osea & Stella, Luca, 2019. "Robots, Labor Markets, and Family Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 12820, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Sara Ayllón, 2019. "Job insecurity and fertility in Europe," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1321-1347, December.
    9. Valentina Tocchioni & Ann Berrington & Daniele Vignoli & Agnese Vitali, 2019. "Housing uncertainty and the transition to parenthood among Britain’s "Generation Rent"," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2019_07, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    10. Osea Giuntella & Lorenzo Rotunno & Luca Stella, 2021. "Trade Shocks, Fertility, and Marital Behavior," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1126, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    11. C. L. Comolli & G. Neyer & G. Andersson & L. Dommermuth & P. Fallesen & M. Jalovaara & A. Klængur Jónsson & M. Kolk & T. Lappegård, 2021. "Beyond the Economic Gaze: Childbearing During and After Recessions in the Nordic Countries," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 37(2), pages 473-520, April.
    12. Hampton Gray Gaddy, 2021. "A decade of TFR declines suggests no relationship between development and sub-replacement fertility rebounds," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 44(5), pages 125-142.
    13. Sarah Hamersma & Yilin Hou & Yusun Kim & Douglas Wolf, 2018. "Business Cycles, Medicaid Generosity, and Birth Outcomes," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 37(5), pages 729-749, October.
    14. Ilaria Zambon & Kostas Rontos & Cecilia Reynaud & Luca Salvati, 2020. "Toward an unwanted dividend? Fertility decline and the North–South divide in Italy, 1952–2018," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 169-187, February.
    15. Danilo Bolano & Daniele Vignoli, 2020. "First Union Formation in Australia: Actual Constraints or Perceived Uncertainty?," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2020_07, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    16. Daniele Vignoli & Raffaele Guetto & Giacomo Bazzani & Elena Pirani & Alessandra Minello, 2020. "Economic Uncertainty and Fertility in Europe: Narratives of the Future," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2020_01, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    17. Glenn Sandström, 2017. "A reversal of the socioeconomic gradient of nuptiality during the Swedish mid-20th-century baby boom," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 37(50), pages 1625-1658.
    18. Anna Matysiak & Tomáš Sobotka & Daniele Vignoli, 2021. "The Great Recession and Fertility in Europe: A Sub-national Analysis," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 37(1), pages 29-64, March.
    19. Giacomo Caracciolo & Salvatore Lo Bello & Dario Pellegrino, 2021. "An assessment on the potential impact of COVID-19 on the Italian demographic structure," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 622, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    20. Anna Matysiak & Tomas Sobotka & Daniele Vignoli, 2018. "The Great Recession and Fertility in Europe: A Sub-National Analysis," VID Working Papers 1802, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
    21. Arpino, Bruno & LUPPI, FRANCESCA & Rosina, Alessandro, 2021. "Changes in fertility plans during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy: the role of occupation and income vulnerability," SocArXiv 4sjvm, Center for Open Science.
    22. Susanne Fahlén & Livia Sz. Oláh, 2018. "Economic uncertainty and first-birth intentions in Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 39(28), pages 795-834.
    23. Niccolò Innocenti & Daniele Vignoli & Luciana Lazzeretti, 2020. "Economic Complexity and Fertility. Insights from a Low Fertility Country," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2020_03, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility rates; age-specific fertility rate (ASFR); parity-specific fertility; Great Recession; unemployment; financial uncertainty; Economic Policy Uncertainty Index;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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