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Does fertility respond to work and family reconciliation policies in France?

  • Olivier Thevenon


    (INED - Institut National d'Etudes Démographiques - INED)

The current total fertility rate in France has been increasing over this last ten years and is has reached its highest level since the early 1980s with a rate at 1,98 in 2006. Compared to European standards, this high level of fertility makes France an outlier, in spite of rather similar trends in the transition to adulthood, in partnerships, or in attitudes on birth control or in economic situation (rather low growth, increase in poverty rates). Thus, the French case challenges some of the hypotheses ventured to explain the current low fertility observed in European countries. France's fertility level can be explained by its longstanding family policy, which has changed in-depth since the 1980s to accommodate with women's increasing labour force participation. This policy encompasses a wide range of instruments, based on different actors and motivations, since this policy is aimed to serve different objectives. Despite some ambiguities, family policy seems to have created especially positive attitudes towards 2 or 3 children families in France, and to have bounded the propensity to remain childless. We argue that a key aspect is the favourable context created for the conciliation between work and family through a relatively comprehensive and continuous support over the family life-course. The all set of complementary instruments (financial transfers to large families, parental leave schemes and provision of childcare support) creates a rather secure climate for the decision relating to child bearing. It also explains why the decision to have children or to be in employment is less polarised according to socio-economic status than in other countries.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number hal-00424832.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00424832
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  1. Andres Vikat & Zsolt Spéder & Gijs Beets & Francesco Billari & Christoph Bühler & Aline Desesquelles & Tineke Fokkema & Jan M. Hoem & Alphonse MacDonald & Gerda Neyer & Ariane Pailhé & Antonella Pinne, 2007. "Generations and Gender Survey (GGS)," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 17(14), pages 389-440, November.
  2. Dromel, Nicolas & Cette, Gilbert & Méda, Dominique, 2005. "Conciliation entre vies professionnelle et familiale et renoncements à l'enfant," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/9391, Paris Dauphine University.
  3. Wolfgang Lutz, 2007. "Adaptation versus mitigation policies on demographic change in Europe," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 5(1), pages 19-25.
  4. Laurent Toulemon & Ariane Pailhé & Clémentine Rossier, 2008. "France: High and stable fertility," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(16), pages 503-556, July.
  5. Julie Moschion, 2007. "Reconciling work and family life : the effect of french family policies," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne v07073, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  6. Immervoll, Herwig & Barber, David, 2006. "Can Parents Afford to Work? Childcare Costs, Tax-Benefit Policies and Work Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 1932, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Guy Laroque & Bernard Salanié, 2008. "Does Fertility Respond to Financial Incentives ?," Working Papers 2008-10, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
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  9. FFF1Francesco NNN1Billari, 2004. "Becoming an Adult in Europe: A Macro(/Micro)-Demographic Perspective," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(2), pages 15-44, April.
  10. Del Boca, Daniela & Pasqua, Silvia & Pronzato, Chiara D., 2008. "Market Work and Motherhood Decisions in Contexts," IZA Discussion Papers 3303, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Marit Rønsen, 2004. "Fertility and family policy in Norway - A reflection on trends and possible connections," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 10(10), pages 265-286, June.
  12. Laroque, Guy & Salanié, Bernard, 2003. "Fertility and Financial Incentives in France," CEPR Discussion Papers 4064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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