Unemployment, fertility rates and family policies : A study of 22 European countries during the 2008-2012 recession

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Sociologiska institutionen; Stockholms universitet/Sociologiska institutionen


In this study we have investigated fertility levels during periods of unusually high unemployment levels. Our research questions were: 1. To what extent does fertility levels change during periods of higher unemployment? 2. Can family policies affect changes of fertility levels during these periods?

Our hypothesis states that firstly, fertility levels are expected to be lower during periods of higher unemployment, due to households perceiving a lower level of economic security. Secondly, effective family policies should counter this effect, making unemployment having less of an effect on household fertility decisions, due to family policy lowering the economic risks associated with having a child.

We performed an analysis in two parts. In the first part we divided countries into groups based on which countries had experienced a period of higher unemployment, and which countries had more or less generous family policies. The second part of our analysis was a regression analysis of TFR, unemployment and family policy variables. The results were in line with our first hypothesis: In our first analysis, the group of countries that were experiencing a period of higher unemployment also had a more negative development of fertility. In our regression analysis, we could observe a negative relationship between unemployment and fertility. On the other hand, our results could not support our second hypothesis: No individual family policy could be found to change the effect of unemployment on fertility levels.

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