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Low fertility in Europe

Low fertility in Europe: Is there still reason to worry?

Stijn Hoorens
Jack Clift
Laura Staetsky
Barbara Janta
Stephanie Diepeveen
Molly Morgan Jones
Jonathan Grant
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 118
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  • Book Info
    Low fertility in Europe
    Book Description:

    Recent statistics suggest that fertility in Europe shows signs of recovery after decades of year-on-year drops. This report updates a study on low fertility from 2004 and explores the extent, causes and consequences of the recent recovery.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5951-2
    Subjects: Population Studies, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
    Stijn Hoorens
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. List of figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. List of tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  7. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In 2004, RAND Europe published a report entitled “Low Fertility and Population Ageing: Causes, Consequences and Policy Options” (Grant et al. 2004), which explored the issue of low birth rates in Europe, its consequences for population ageing and what governments can do about it. Since then, governments have implemented various policy measures to address these issues and recently fertility rates have shown signs of recovery. Against this background, it is relevant, interesting and timely to investigate whether the evidence has changed since 2004 and whether the recent trends should still be reason to worry.

    Until the 1970s, debates about demographic...

  9. Chapter 2 Demographic trends: what the data tell us
    (pp. 7-14)

    Over the past decade, policymakers, researchers and media alike in Europe have been concerned with birth shortages and consequential population ageing. Birth rates have been falling worldwide and family sizes have been shrinking. However, the tables seem to have turned in recent years, and total fertility rates (TFRs) in many countries of the European Union (EU) have followed an upward trend during the 2000s.

    Levels and trends in fertility in the EU constitute the main focus of this chapter. In sections 2.1 and 2.2, we review the trends of fertility decline and its recent recovery in the EU. Section 2.3...

  10. Chapter 3 Drivers of fertility: what the literature tells us
    (pp. 15-26)

    As one of three main factors influencing population structure, understanding the drivers and inhibitors of fertility can provide insight into the factors contributing to the trends explored in Chapter 2 and their possible consequences.

    Population size and structure depend on a range of intersecting societal and individual factors, ranging from economic and labour market conditions and gender equality, to marital status, family employment and income, and the cost of having and rearing children (Grant et al. 2004). This chapter explores the literature on how socio-economic and socio-cultural factors affect the fertility decisions of individuals within countries, and how immigration has...

  11. Chapter 4 Case study: Germany
    (pp. 27-34)

    The fertility patterns in the former East and West Germany have changed considerably since reunification. Before 1990, the total fertility rate (TFR) in West Germany had been decreasing continuously since the late 1960s, whereas in East Germany, a similar decrease in TFR began to reverse in the mid- to late 1970s, apparently in response to the introduction of pro-natalist family policies. However, as summarised by Grant et al. (2004) these policies were part of a comprehensive package of measures, therefore it is difficult to assess the impact of specific family policies. As the authors conclude, the purely economic incentives had...

  12. Chapter 5 Case study: Poland
    (pp. 35-44)

    The changing fertility trends in Poland provide researchers with the opportunity to explore policy and demography. Some government initiatives resulted in a drop in fertility rate in the 1950s and early 1960s, whereas pro-natalist family policies in the 1970s and 1980s helped the total fertility rate (TFR) to stabilise above replacement level. The fertility level declined slowly from the 1960s, but remained above the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman until the late 1980s. In the 1990s, during the economic transition from a planned to a free market economy, a rapid decrease in fertility levels was experienced. As summarised...

  13. Chapter 6 Case study: Spain
    (pp. 45-52)

    Spain had one of the highest fertility rates in Europe in the 1960s to 1970s, reaching nearly three children per mother at various points in time. However, in the mid-1970s fertility rates experienced one of the steepest drops in all of Europe, reaching a low of 1.15 children in 1998 (Grant et al. 2004; Delgado et al. 2008). Although the fertility rate has not risen above the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman since 1981, it has seen steady increases since 1998 and now stands at just under 1.5 children per woman.

    Spain has gone through a period of...

  14. Chapter 7 Case study: Sweden
    (pp. 53-60)

    Unique among its neighbours, period total fertility rates (TFR) in Sweden varied widely in the 1980s and 1990s. There was a definite rise in TFR in the 1980s, a decline during the 1990s and a rise from the late 1990s. These shifts in TFR have been termed ‘rollercoaster fertility’ (Hoem and Hoem 1996, cited in Hoem 2000) and are the focus for much work on the drivers of fertility in Sweden.

    In 2004, Grant et al. asked: “Is it possible to explain the rollercoaster nature of fertility in Sweden since the 1970s by specific policy measures and/or contextual factors?” (2004:...

  15. Chapter 8 Case study: United Kingdom
    (pp. 61-70)

    Of all the countries of the European Union (EU), the UK has had one of most dramatic turnarounds in period total fertility over the last five years, with recent gains more than reversing the slow decline of the previous two decades. The possibility of reaching the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman looked remote in the early years of the millennium, but now appears much more likely.

    This case study explores UK fertility in more detail, looking at the trends underlying the headline period total fertility rate (TFR), asking what could explain the recent rebound and examining whether any...

  16. Chapter 9 Conclusions and implications for policy
    (pp. 71-78)

    The steady decline of period fertility in Europe that started in the 1960s seems to be part of a global demographic transition. The global decline in fertility was initiated by the introduction of mass contraception and sustained as a consequence of a complex interplay of a large number of socioeconomic factors, including economic transition, changes in value systems (regarding marriage, out-of-wedlock births, working women, etc.) and improved access to education.

    However, the total fertility rate (TFR) among European countries varies considerably. Eastern and Southern European countries tend to have the lowest TFRs; higher TFRs are found in Western and Northern...

  17. References
    (pp. 79-90)
  18. Appendix A: The potential consequences of population ageing
    (pp. 91-94)
  19. Appendix B: The other drivers of population dynamics
    (pp. 95-99)