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From Empty Pews to Empty Cradles: Fertility Decline Among European Catholics

Author

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  • Eli Berman
  • Laurence R. Iannaccone
  • Giuseppe Ragusa

Abstract

Catholic countries of Europe pose a demographic puzzle -fertility is unprecedentedly low (total fertility=1.3) despite low female labor force participation. We model three channels of religious effects on demand for children: through changing norms, reduced market wages, and reduced costs of childrearing. We estimate their effects using new panel data on church attendance and clergy employment for thirteen European countries from 1960-2000, spanning the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Catholic theology is uniform across countries. Yet service varied considerably across countries and over time, especially before the Council, reflecting differences in Church provision of education, health, welfare and other social services. We use differential declines in service provision --measured by nuns/capita-- to identify its effect on fertility, controlling for secular trends. They are large: 300 to 400 children per nun. Reduced religiosity (measured by church attendance) has no effect for Protestants, but predicts fertility decline for Catholics. The data suggest that service provision and religiosity complement each other -a finding consistent with preferential provision of services to church attendees. Nuns outperform priests in predicting fertility, suggesting that the childrearing cost channel dominates theology and norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Eli Berman & Laurence R. Iannaccone & Giuseppe Ragusa, 2012. "From Empty Pews to Empty Cradles: Fertility Decline Among European Catholics," NBER Working Papers 18350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18350
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. De Laat, Joost & Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena, 2006. "Working women, men's home time and lowest-low fertility," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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    8. Evelyn Lehrer, 1996. "Religion as a determinant of marital fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(2), pages 173-196, June.
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    10. Ross Stolzenberg & Mary Blair-Loy & Linda J. Waite, "undated". "Religious Participation Over the Early Life Course: Age and Family Life Cycle Effects on Church Membership," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 94-14, Chicago - Population Research Center.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Oliveira, Livio Luiz Soares de & Neto, Giácomo Balbinotto & Cortes, Renan Xavier, 2012. "Quem vai à igreja? Um teste de regressão logística ordenada do modelo de Azzi-Ehrenberg para o Brasil
      [Who goes to church: A test of the ordered logistic regression model of Azzi-Ehrenberg to Brazi
      ," MPRA Paper 45092, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Mayssun El-Attar, 2013. "Trust, child care technology choice and female labor force participation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 507-544, December.
    3. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 395-441, June.
    4. David de la Croix & Faustine Perrin, 2016. "French Fertility and Education Transition: Rational Choice vs. Cultural Diffusion," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    5. David de la Croix & Clara Delavallade, 2015. "Religions, Fertility and Growth in South-East Asia," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2015002, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    6. Noury, Abdul G. & Speciale, Biagio, 2016. "Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 821-841.
    7. Gihleb, Rania & Giuntella, Osea, 2017. "Nuns and the effects of catholic schools. Evidence from Vatican II," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 191-213.
    8. Sandra Brée & David de la Croix, 2016. "Key Forces Behind the Decline of Fertility: Lessons from Childlessness in Rouen before the Industrial Revolution," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    9. Lozano, Fernando A., 2012. "What Happened to God's Time? The Evolution of Secularism and Hours of Work in America, Evidence from Religious Holidays," IZA Discussion Papers 6552, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Del Boca, Daniela & Locatelli, Marilena, 2006. "The Determinants of Motherhood and Work Status: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2414, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Huber, John D. & Stanig, Piero, 2011. "Church-state separation and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 828-836.
    12. Lehrer, Evelyn L., 2008. "The Role of Religion in Economic and Demographic Behavior in the United States: A Review of the Recent Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 3541, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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