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Fertility and Public Policy

Fertility and Public Policy: How to Reverse the Trend of Declining Birth Rates

Noriyuki Takayama
Martin Werding
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Fertility and Public Policy
    Book Description:

    In 2050, world population growth is predicted to come almost to a halt. Shortly thereafter it may well start to shrink. A major reason behind this shift is the fertility decline that has taken place in many developed countries. In this book, experts discuss the appropriateness and effectiveness of using public policy to influence fertility decisions. Contributors discuss the general feasibility of public interventions in the area of fertility, analyze fertility patterns and policy design in such countries as Japan, South Korea, China, Sweden, and France, and offer theoretical analyses of parental fertility choices that provide an overview of a broad array of child-related policy instruments in a number of OECD and EU countries. The chapters show that it is difficult to gauge the effectiveness of such policy interventions as child-care subsidies, support for women's labor-force participation, and tax incentives. Data are often incomplete, causal relations unproved, and the role of social norms and culture difficult to account for. Investigating reasons for the decline in fertility more closely will require further study. This volume offers the latest work on this increasingly important subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29565-9
    Subjects: Economics, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)

    This book is part of the CESifo Seminar Series. The series aims to cover topical policy issues in economics from a largely European perspective. The books in this series are the products of the papers and intensive debates that took place during the seminars hosted by CESifo, an international research network of renowned economists organized jointly by the Center for Economic Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, and the Ifo Institute for Economic Research. All publications in this series have been carefully selected and refereed by members of the CESifo research network....

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1 Fertility and Public Policy: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Noriyuki Takayama and Martin Werding

    Only a few decades ago, overpopulation of the earth was seen to be an imminent threat. Nowadays, growth of the world population still continues but at a much lower pace than had been predicted earlier. It is now expected to almost come to a halt until 2050 (see the 2008 revision of the United Nations Population Division’s forecast, “medium variant”). Starting from 2045, the number of people aged 60 and over may, for the first time in history, exceed the number of children and youths aged less than 15. From then onward, the world population may well start shrinking as...

  7. 2 The Economics of the Family and Its Policy Implications: Why Should We Care about Fertility Outcomes?
    (pp. 15-50)
    Martin Werding

    There is, as of now, no theory that is generally accepted and provides a comprehensive, causal explanation for the long-term fertility decline observed throughout the developed world. What comes closest to this standard is the “theory of demographic transition.” This is a purely descriptive approach referring to a characteristic sequence of reductions in (age-specific) mortality and fertility, with predictable consequences for the growth rate as well as the age structure of the population affected (see Birg 1995, ch. 3, for a critical review). Insofar as all the available data appear to fit this pattern, demographers tend to assume that many...

  8. 3 Low Fertility and Population Aging in Germany and Japan: Prospects and Policies
    (pp. 51-80)
    Warren Sanderson

    Almost all developed countries currently have below replacement fertility (United Nations 2007), a situation where the average woman of reproductive age does not produce enough offspring to replace herself with one daughter of reproductive age in the next generation. Indeed a number of these countries are in a group characterized as having the lowest-low fertility. This normally means that, on average, 100 woman of reproductive age replace themselves with less than 65 daughters. In the long-run, when age structure effects of baby booms, and the like, are washed out, that rate of reproduction would lead to population shrinkage of around...

  9. 4 Effects of Public Policies and Labor Market on the Fertility of Japanese Women: Analyses of Municipal Data
    (pp. 81-110)
    Seiritsu Ogura and Tamotsu Kadoda

    Over the past thirty-five years Japan has been experiencing a rapid decline in the number of children born, from 2.09 millions in 1973 to 1.06 millions in 2005. During this period the total fertility rate of Japanese women dropped from 2.16 in 1971 to 1.26 in 2005 (see also figure 3.1b in chapter 3 of this volume). As a result of this rapid decline in the fertility, many Japanese public institutions came under serious attack on their sustainability questions. Most notable among these institutions are the public pension programs and public health insurance programs that had been transferring huge amounts...

  10. 5 On the Persistence of Low Birth Rates in Japan
    (pp. 111-136)
    Reiko Aoki and Yoko Konishi

    We start with some observations from time-series and cross-country data on fertility and female labor participation. The usual correlation between female labor participation and fertility is negative (Becker 1965) as the time series of female labor participation rate (FLPR) and total fertility rate (TFR) of selected OECD countries exhibit (figure 5.1). Recently the positive correlation between FLPR and TFR cross-country data in 2005 (average of years 1985–1996 as well as year 2000; see Sleebos 2003; d’Addio and d’Ercole 2005; Da Rocha and Fuster 20060) has received much attention. In Japan as well, the cross-sectional data among prefectures show positive...

  11. 6 An Evaluation of a Pronatal Subsidy in Korea: A Quasi-experimental Approach
    (pp. 137-158)
    Yoonyoung Cho

    A sharp decline in Korea’s total fertility rate (TFR), from a high of 4.53 in 1970 to a low of 1.08 in 2005, had called for serious policy measures. Pronatal policies in the form of subsidies, tax policies, and labor market interventions were widely discussed (e.g., Cho 2007b). However, because of the already low participation of women in the labor force in Korea, any policy undermining for women the incentive to work outside the home was considered less than preferable.¹ For instance, the child allowances prevalent in many European countries, which provide universal subsidies to families upon the birth of...

  12. 7 Fertility Transition and Its Socioeconomic Impacts in China
    (pp. 159-182)
    Xizhe Peng

    Over the last half century China witnessed a very rapid fertility transition. Its total fertility rate declined from around 6.0 in the 1960s down to below replacement level in the 1990s, and it has remained at such a low level since then. The Chinese fertility transition is characterized by its rapidity and strong government intervention, and it has had a profound impact on China’s socioeconomic development.

    Although in Chinese culture a large family was traditionally desired, the natural fertility level in China was never excessively high. Historical studies of Chinese society show the TFR in the natural fertility regime to...

  13. 8 Fertility and Social Policy
    (pp. 183-202)
    Jonathan Bradshaw and Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz

    Some of the theories or conceptual frameworks that seek to explain fertility suggest that policy might have an impact. McDonald (2000), for example, has proposed four theoretical perspectives to explain fertility (decline), which also nicely cover the disciplinary perspectives of economics, sociology, psychology and feminism.

    Rational choice theory

    Postmaterialist values theory

    Risk aversion theory and

    Gender equity theory

    Of these, three could be related to policy.

    Rational choice theoryargues that the direct and indirect costs of having children outweigh the economic (if any) and psychological benefits. The obvious policy link is that transfers via taxes and benefits and subsidized...

  14. 9 Family Policies and Fertility in Sweden
    (pp. 203-218)
    Gunnar Andersson

    In demographic research Sweden often stands out as a country of reference. This is for a number of good reasons. Sweden has been a forerunner in family-demographic change. It has some of the best demographic data in the world that can be used in research, and these data come from a centuries-long history of meticulously recording the demographic events of its resident population. The experience of Sweden is also of interest because it has been innovative in terms of policy development related to family life. In the 1970s and 1980s changes in women’s position in society motivated the introduction of...

  15. 10 Does Fertility Respond to Work and Family-life Reconciliation Policies in France?
    (pp. 219-260)
    Olivier Thévenon

    For the past two years France has enjoyed fertility rates approaching replacement level, with a total fertility rate of 1.98 in 2006 and 2.00 in 2008. After a ten-year period of slow growth, the fertility rate has thus reached its highest level in about thirty years (Prioux 2007), placing France in top position among European and other OECD countries. However, this high level of fertility is somewhat puzzling because most of the trends impacting the transition to adulthood that have emerged in Western countries since the 1970s may also be seen in France. Young people have increased their educational investment...

  16. 11 Given That People Live Longer, Why Should We Worry That Fewer Are Born?
    (pp. 261-272)
    Alessandro Cigno

    The world population increased nearly fourfold over the course of the last century. It is still increasing, but at a decreasing rate. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA 2007) predicts that the world population will stabilize at around 10 billion by the middle of the present century as fertility decline catches up with mortality decline. In view of global warming, rising food and oil prices, and other signs of pressure on natural resources, this might be regarded as a homeostatic adjustment. Yet governments fret about the financial strain that population aging is putting on the welfare state in general, and the...

  17. Index
    (pp. 273-283)