Family policies and fertility: analyzing the link between family policy institutions and fertility rates in 33 countries 1995-2010

Tommy Ferrarini, Stockholm University
Katharina Wesolowski, Södertörn University

This study analyzes the link between family-policy institutions and fertility changes in 33 countries 1995 to 2010 using new institutional data. We use newly collected data on family-policy legislation covering not only the frequently analyzed old OECD member countries, but also including new EU member countries as well as Russia and Ukraine. In order to evaluate the link between family policy and fertility, pooled time-series cross-section regression analyses are used with the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) as outcome variable and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), female labor force participation, and unemployment rates as control variables. The results show that more extensive gender-egalitarian family policies, and female employment are linked to higher fertility, while policies supporting traditional family patterns or the degree of economic development produce no statistically significant results. Analyses of the interaction between earner-carer support and female paid work indicate that the impact of introducing more gender-egalitarian policies would be stronger in countries with lower levels of female labor force participation. Regressions with differenced data support ideas of earner-carer support being linked to increases in total fertility. Thus, the results lend support to McDonald´s (2006) argument that work-family reconciliation policies might be a way to increase fertility rates of a country.

  See paper

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