An alternative framework for studying the effects of family policies on fertility in the absence of individual-level data: a spatial analysis with small-scale macro data on Germany
For studying both individual-level and small-scale contextual influences on the effects of family policies on fertility, Multilevel Event History methods are the state-of-the-art. But in many countries, these methods cannot be applied because the available individual-level data are inadequate. This paper uses an alternative methodological framework that can be of help in these cases. It utilizes small-scale macro data, which is analyzed with Exploratory Data, Cluster, and Spatial Panel Model Analysis techniques. In a case study on the western German city of Bremen, the potential of this approach, as well as its limitations, are investigated. The study analyzes the impact of the parental leave reform of 1986 and the child benefit reform of 1996 on fertility levels in different city quarters (Stadtteile) of Bremen. The results indicate that both family policy reforms had, at least in the short-term, a significant impact on fertility levels. These positive effects were stronger in economically disadvantaged quarters. The findings also suggest that the reforms affected the timing more than the quantum of fertility. With regard to the methodological framework, we can conclude that the Spatial Analysis with small-scale macro data is a useful alternative when there is no individual-level data available for carrying out a Multilevel Event History Analysis.
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