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What can fertility indicators tell us about pronatalist policy options?

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  • John Bongaarts

Abstract

The identification and implementation of ways to avert the adverse future consequences of rapid population ageing represent urgent new public policy challenges. This paper synthesises the available knowledge on pronatalist policy options and assesses their potential impact by examining three fertility indicators: the total fertility rate, the tempo-adjusted total fertility rate and the personal ideal family size. Using recent data from thirteen European countries, the TFR is found to be lower than the ideal family size in each population. The two main reasons for this gap are tempo effects and economic, social and biological obstacles to the implementation of reproductive preferences. These factors together are estimated to average approximately 0.8 to 0.9 births per woman. Policy options to raise fertility without interfering with existing reproductive preferences are proposed. The concluding section briefly examines the impact of an increase in fertility on future trends in the old-age dependency ratio.

Suggested Citation

  • John Bongaarts, 2008. "What can fertility indicators tell us about pronatalist policy options?," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 6(1), pages 39-55.
  • Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:6:y:2008:i:1:p:39-55
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    1. Peter McDonald, 2000. "Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 427-439.
    2. Tomás Sobotka, 2004. "Is Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe Explained by the Postponement of Childbearing?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 195-220.
    3. Jan M. Hoem & Alexia Prskawetz & Gerda R. Neyer, 2001. "Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    4. repec:cai:poeine:pope_203_0417 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    6. S. Philip Morgan, 2003. "Is low fertility a twenty-first-century demographic crisis?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(4), pages 589-603, November.
    7. Sheetal K. Chand & Albert Jaeger, 1996. "Aging Populations and Public Pension Schemes," IMF Occasional Papers 147, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Tomáŝ Sobotka & Martin A. Hansen & Tina Kold Jensen & Anette Tønnes Pedersen & Wolfgang Lutz & Niels Erik Skakkebæk, 2008. "The Contribution of Assisted Reproduction to Completed Fertility: An Analysis of Danish Data," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(1), pages 79-101.
    9. Peter Mcdonald, 2006. "Low Fertility and the State: The Efficacy of Policy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 32(3), pages 485-510.
    10. Anne Gauthier, 2007. "The impact of family policies on fertility in industrialized countries: a review of the literature," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 26(3), pages 323-346, June.
    11. Hans-Peter Kohler & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "Tempo-Adjusted Period Parity Progression Measures:," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 6(7), pages 145-190, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kristen Harknett & Francesco Billari & Carla Medalia, 2014. "Do Family Support Environments Influence Fertility? Evidence from 20 European Countries," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 30(1), pages 1-33, February.

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