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A Mediterranean Perspective on the Breakdown of the Relationship between Participation and Fertility


  • Bettio, Francesca
  • Villa, Paola


In this paper the authors address two related questions: first, why does the inverse relationship between female participation and fertility appear to have broken down on a cross-country basis in the Western industrialized nations and, second, why has Mediterranean Europe contributed to this breakdown with its combination of record low fertility and low participation? They re-examine the cross-country fertility--participation nexus from a long-term perspective and verify that there are no longer reasons to expect a systematic inverse relationship to hold for developed countries. The authors argue further that differences in participation and fertility reflect differences in the 'economics of the family' across countries. In Mediterranean countries, the combination of low fertility and low participation is favored by a family-centered welfare system, a family-biased production system and a family-oriented value system. And, contrary to widespread expectations, a very cohesive family has encouraged very low fertility. Copyright 1998 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Bettio, Francesca & Villa, Paola, 1998. "A Mediterranean Perspective on the Breakdown of the Relationship between Participation and Fertility," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 137-171, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:22:y:1998:i:2:p:137-71

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