Educational specificity of the effect of public policies on completed fertility

Pau Baizán, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Bruno Arpino, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Carlos Eric Delclos, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

In this paper we aim at assessing to what extent completed fertility vary across contexts characterized by policies that support different gender division of labor models. We analyze key family policies and labor market factors, and additionally consider the dimension of gender norms, that can act both as a moderator and a confounding factor for policy effects. We argue that policies are likely to have different fertility effects across levels of education. This is due to differences in the costs associated with having children and to different family values. We utilize the European Union Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 16 countries and apply multi-level models combined with country-level data. We find that reduced working hours for men and gender egalitarian norms have a positive impact on fertility. Furthermore, their positive impact is greater among highly educated women. Childcare enrollment and women’s part-time also show the expected positive pattern according to education, but their overall effect is not significant. The influence of monetary transfers is negative, with a clear negative gradient according to education. Finally, we find that where gender norms are more egalitarian, fertility tends to be higher. In sum, policies that support gender equality in paid and unpaid work have a positive impact on fertility, while policies supporting gender role specialization in the family have a depressing effect.

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Presented in Session 109: Gender assumptions, policy design and demographic outcomes: focus on fertility