Consequences of family policies on childbearing behavior: effects or artifacts?
This paper argues that theoretical and methodological aspects account for the ambiguous results of investigations into the effects of family policies on fertility. Theoretically we employ approaches of comparative welfare-state research, of the sociology of “constructed categories”, and of the “new institutionalism” to demonstrate that investigations into the effects of policies on fertility need to contextualize policies and reduce their complexities by focusing on “critical junctures”, “space”, and “usage”. As regards methods we argue that the policy effects can only be assessed properly if we study the impact of policies on individual behavior, event-history models applied to individual-level data being the state-of-theart of such an approach. We present studies on the impact of family policies on Swedish childbearing behavior to demonstrate that an analytical and methodological approach as we advocate prevents us from drawing misleading conclusions about the effects of family policies on childbearing and fertility.
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