Preference theory and low fertility: A comparative perspective
The discussion on the causes of the most recent fertility decline in Europe, and in particular on the emergence of lowest low fertility, emphasizes the relevance of cultural factors as compared to economic ones. Within such framework, the heterogeneity of preferences concerning the career vs. family dichotomy has been systematized in the Preference Theory approach developed by Catherine Hakim. This heterogeneity, however, has been so far underinvestigated in a comparative framework. This paper makes use of new comparative data from the 2004/05 Round of the European Social Survey to test the links between individual-level preferences and both fertility outcomes and fertility intentions, in a variety of societal settings. Results confirm an association between work-family lifestyle preferences and realized fertility in a variety of European countries, while they do not support the relevance of lifestyle preferences on fertility intentions.
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