Family policy and fertility in 23 European countries

Mare Ainsaar, University of Tartu
Helina Riisalu, University of Tartu

Several theoretical and empirical papers have discussed influence of family policy on fertility. The most frequent conclusion from these papers is that, even if there is a relationship between family policy and fertility, its nature is more indirect than direct, and family policy has only a limited impact on birth rates, mostly on the timing of childbirth or that family policy is a necessary, but not a sufficient fertility factor, or it can be explained by configurations of several factors. Hoem (2008) concludes that, national fertility is possibly best seen as a systemic outcome that depends more on broader attributes, such as the degree of family-friendliness of a society. The aim of the paper is to analyse the influence of family policy on fertility within the context of different societal backgrounds. METHOD: Family policy is divided into pronatalist and child well-being sections for analyses and data of 23 European countries from 2002 are used. Family level policy measures are standardised according to the relative wealth level in each country and a type of recipient - the two-parent family with one child, with an average income. Two-parent family with one child is selected as the most dominant family type most of the countries. Results of the model with wished number of children, women’s forced stay out of workforce because of family, general wealth level and different types of family policy indicators demonstrate positive influence of the part of the child well-being policy on total fertility rates. Pronatalist policy did not have clear connection with fertility. However, the desired number of children and the general wealth level described more of the fertility variability than the child well-being policy.

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Presented in Session 103: Gender in the European policy context