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High development and fertility: fertility at older reproductive ages and gender equality explain the positive link

  • Mikko Myrskylä

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Hans-Peter Kohler

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Francesco C. Billari

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

A fundamental reversal of the traditional fertility-development relationship has occurred in highly developed countries so that further socioeconomic development is no longer associated with decreasing fertility, but with increasing fertility. In this paper, we seek to shed light on the mechanisms underlying this reversal by analyzing data from 1975 to 2008 for over 100 countries. We find that the reversal exists from both the period and the cohort perspectives, and is mainly driven by increasing fertility at older reproductive ages. Further, the reversal is only partially explained by changes in the timing of fertility. However, the positive impact of development on fertility is conditional on gender equality: countries that rank high in development as measured by health, income, and education, but low in gender equality, continue to experience declining fertility. This finding demonstrates the importance of work-family balance in shaping fertility at older reproductive ages.

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File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2011-017.pdf
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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2011-017.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2011-017
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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  1. Angela Luci & Olivier Thevenon, 2010. "Does economic development drive the fertility rebound in OECD countries?," Working Papers hal-00520948, HAL.
  2. Chris Wilson, 2011. "Understanding Global Demographic Convergence since 1950," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 37(2), pages 375-388, 06.
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  6. de la CROIX, David & VANDER DONCKT, Marie, . "Would empowering women initiate the demographic transition in least developed countries?," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2290, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  9. Olivier Thévenon, 2011. "Family Policies in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 37(1), pages 57-87, 03.
  10. Francesco C. Billari & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2002. "Patterns of lowest-low fertility in Europe," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-040, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  11. Anne Gauthier, 2007. "The impact of family policies on fertility in industrialized countries: a review of the literature," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 323-346, June.
  12. Ronald Lee, 2003. "The Demographic Transition: Three Centuries of Fundamental Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 167-190, Fall.
  13. Gerda Neyer & Gunnar Andersson, 2008. "Consequences of Family Policies on Childbearing Behavior: Effects or Artifacts?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(4), pages 699-724.
  14. Peter McDonald, 2000. "Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 427-439.
  15. Tomas Frejka & Gérard Calot, 2001. "Cohort Reproductive Patterns in Low-Fertility Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 103-132.
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