Female education, technologies and the demographic transition: A virtuous circle

Source: https://www.sciencespo.fr/research/cogito/home/female-education-technologies-and-the-demographic-transition/?lang=en

Studying the demographic transition in developing countries calls for a long-term perspective. Taking into account intergenerational dynamics, as well as the evolution of technical progress, enables identification of the drivers of increased female education, which has multiple positive consequences, both individual and collective.

What are the driving forces of this virtuous circle? How are they transmitted and what are their effects in the middle and long run? These are the questions adressed in a recently published article by Angela Greulich, researcher at the Observatoire sociologique du changement, Nguyen Thang Dao (Osaka University) and Julio Dávila (Nazarbayev University & Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne).

In this research, we theoretically and empirically study the consequences of the narrowing gender gap and education gap in emerging and developing countries. We take into account the role of technological advances in the demographic transition and economic growth. We do so by developing a model in the tradition of the unified growth theory that captures the process of growth throughout human existence.

By empirically mobilizing data spanning the end of the 20th to the beginning of the 21st century, we confirm the hypotheses of this model. We thus complete existing research on the demographic transition in the 19th century in the West, where we observed a transition from a high fertility and mortality regime to a low fertility and mortality regime. Compared to the demographic transition observed in the West, the demographic transition in Asia, North Africa and Latin America took place a century later, with lower levels of GDP per capita but a faster decline in fertility.

To explain the demographic transition of emerging and developing countries, our approach focuses on technological progress, in particular the innovation and diffusion of time-saving home appliances.

Phenomena spread over time

To understand the crucial role of technological innovations on fertility and on human capital formation (skills, abilities and talents of workers) in emerging and developing countries, three consecutive mechanisms must be distinguished:

– First, the distribution of household appliances enables a reduction in domestic work time and frees up time for women. Women can then devote more time to the education of children. In the countries we have studied, this additional free time initially leads to an increase in fertility, but also to an increase in the participation of a first generation of women in the formal labor market.
– Second, the higher female labor force participation encourages parents to invest more in the education of their daughters (second generation). The higher expected return of education (higher female wages) thus increases their daughters’ years of schooling.  This improves gender equality in education and increases the ‘opportunity cost’ of childrearing (the implicit wage loss of staying at home to look after children). This increasing cost then leads to a decrease in fertility.
– Finally, narrowing the gender gap in education through increased investment in female education increases average human capital, which in turn stimulates technological progress (the third and subsequent generations). This positive loop results in the transition to a lower fertility regime and accelerated economic growth.

The role of technological progress

In order to empirically estimate the effect of the diffusion of time-saving home appliances on fertility in less-developed countries, we use the logarithm of the density of telephone subscriptions (number of fixed and mobile telephone lines per 100 inhabitants). The advantage of using a logarithm is that it captures proportional rather than linear changes. A 10-year forward gap is applied (i.e. telephone density is observed 10 years later than fertility), as telephone lines were diffused later than time-saving home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, kitchens, ovens, electric irons, vacuum cleaners, etc.

In order to model this relationship, we used a regression model with country-specific and year-specific effects (fixed-effects model). This type of model makes it possible to control for country-specific variables that are constant over time, and to capture the influence of global trends over time. A series of control variables (GDP per capita, population density, exports, child mortality) make it possible to distinguish the role of technical progress from that of other forms of progress: economic, social and institutional. It should be noted that results are robust when using other measures of technology diffusion, such as the percentage of the population with access to electricity or ownership of a refrigerator.

The curve in the figure below illustrates the  estimated within-country variation (red line) between the total fertility rate (TFR) and the density of telephone subscriptions, and contrasts it to real observations (blue dots). 

FIGURE: Fertility and density of telephone lines. Data: World Bank World Development Indicators, 148 countries, 1960–2015 (N = 5592)

The curve is concave: at low levels of technology diffusion (left side of the figure), greater diffusion of technology pairs with greater total fertility rates,  while at higher levels of technology diffusion (right side of the figure), total fertility rates decrease as technology diffusion increases. The graph also shows that the correlation between fertility and technology diffusion is predominantly negative, with the shift in the correlation occurring at a relatively low level of technology diffusion.

The crucial role of female education for economic growth

Thus, the role of technological progress and its consequences on the education of women is clearly part of the underlying mechanisms of the accelerated demographic transition that can be observed in many developing and emerging countries. This study highlights the crucial role of female education in economic growth. Technological progress can potentially increase female labor market participation, not only by freeing women’s time from housework due to the appearance of time-saving household products, but also by leading households to reduce fertility. The driver here is an increase in the return of female human capital, which increases the opportunity cost of children. Increased investment in women’s education in turn accelerates technological progress, creating a virtuous circle able to trigger sustained economic growth.

‘’ The education gender gap and the demographic transition in developing countries ’, Nguyen Thang Dao, Julio Dávila & Angela Greulich, Journal of Population Economics, Issue 2, 2021, DOI 10.1007 / s00148-020-00787-1

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Facilitating family enlargement in Europe through dual parental employment

Using European panel data from 2003 to 2011 (EU-SILC), Angela Greulich, Mathilde Guergoat-Larivière and Olivier Thévenon (2017) show that dual-earner couples are more likely to have a second child than couples with only one earner. This is especially the case for higher educated women and in countries with relatively high levels of institutional childcare. In terms of institutional settings, the implication is that early childcare favors family enlargement more than other family policy instruments.

Women’s rising education and discrepancies in fertility rates in Europe

Even though fertility levels have declined somewhat since the economic recession in 2008 in most European countries, differences are high across Europe: from close to replacement to low or even very low, especially in Southern and in Central and Eastern Europe (Figure 1).  This has happened despite the convergence of fertility intentions towards the two-child norm that has been observed in European countries over the last three decades (Sobotka and Beaujouan, 2014).

Rising level of women’s education and the incompatibility of work and family life are among the factors usually invoked to explain the fertility decline. In standard economic theory, an increase in potential income makes women opt for work instead of care for children. This happens because the negative substitution effect (caused by indirect/opportunity costs of fertility: the potential wage loss for women who stay at home) dominates the positive income effect (richer couples may afford to bear and rear more children).


However, the upward trend in women’s education is visible in all countries, but fertility rates still vary widely: this means that other factors must be at play. In particular, some institutional settings may change the relative magnitude of substitution and income effects. Indeed, the labor market integration of both partners, along with increased household income, could also be seen as an option to facilitate family formation as well as family enlargement. But this ability depends largely on a country’s degree of support for the work-family balance.

We use the EU-SILC database[1] and the OECD Family database[2] to analyze individual and institutional determinants of second childbirths. We focus on second births because several studies have shown that the low fertility levels observed in some European countries are largely attributable to fewer second births or higher order births, and not so much on first births (Frejka and Sardon, 2007; Frejka and Sobotka, 2008; Breton and Prioux, 2009; d’Albis et al. 2017).

By using the four-year rotational panel between 2003 and 2011 for 25 selected European countries, we looked at women aged 17 to 45 who already had one child and observed under what conditions they were likely to give birth to a second child during the observed period. We investigated both individual and institutional determinants by applying several more or less sophisticated models (probit, biprobit, multi-level modelling). Since employment and fertility decisions are often taken simultaneously, we implemented different methods to reduce the risk of biased results due to endogeneity: the use of longitudinal data allowed us to observe the determinants of second childbirth before the event occurred and we also tested an instrumental variable approach. Our instruments were regional unemployment rates, which turned out to be associated more closely with women’s labor market status than with their fertility.

Employment matters. Twice.

We found evidence that being in employment significantly increased women’s probability of a second childbirth even after controlling for the existence of a partner, marital status, mother’s age, age and sex of the first child, country and year. In simple words, this means that, on average, women in employment were more likely to have a second childbirth than women who were inactive (margins at means: the estimated probability of having a second child is 8.67% for employed women and 7.93% for women who were not working). Unemployed women and students have a particularly lower probability of second childbirth (7.33% and 5.39%) in comparison to employed women, as illustrated in Figure 2, which presents the predictive margins of having a second child for each employment status of women.


The magnitude of the effect differed, however, according to other characteristics of the women. For education, for instance, the positive impact of being in employment turned out to be significant only for highly educated women. Our interpretation is that these women, who invested in their human capital (that is, who spent several years studying), want a return on their investment (i.e., want to earn some money after all their effort), and therefore they want to secure their position on the labor market before they consider having a second child. This may have a large impact, overall, because the proportion of European women aged 30 to 34 who have an ISCED 5-8 level of education (i.e., the highly educated; ISCED stands for International Standard Classification of Education) has risen from 23% in 2000 to 44% in 2017. The policy implication of this result is that facilitating the insertion of women in the labor market may be an effective way to sustain fertility in Europe.

Interacting the effect of women’s labor market status with that of their partner’s, we found that dual employment favored the transition to a second child more strongly than any other configuration. Dual-earner couples were more likely to have a second child than “traditional” couples, in which only the man was employed, probably because of their greater economic security. The predictive margins, illustrated in Figure 3, are 9.10% for dual earner couples, against 8.13% for couples in which only the male partner is working, 6.71% for couples in which only the woman is working and 7.12% for couples in which both partners are inactive (note that confidence intervals can overlap even though the estimated coefficients are significantly different from each other). 


Institutional support vs. parental leave and cash transfers

If individual determinants are crucial to explain family formation (age, education level of both partners, age of the first child, employment status etc.), the institutional framework in each country also constitutes an important determinant of fertility behavior. European countries are known to have very diverse family policies. Overall, three main types of policies can be distinguished, namely leave schemes, childcare coverage and cash transfers to families. These three main options are measured in our study through three indicators available from the OECD Family Database: leave schemes are quantified by the maximum duration for which a mother can be on leave with employment protection. Childcare coverage is measured by the proportion of children under age 3 who are enrolled in formal care services, either home- or center-based, and refers not only to public and publicly subsidized care but also to private formal childcare (provided by companies for their employees, for example)[3]. Cash benefits represent the transfers received by a couple with 2 children over a period of 3 years after the birth of a second child (sum of leave payments, family benefits and household’s tax savings in comparison to the tax burden of a childless household with the same earnings).

Multilevel models revealed that the development of childcare at the country level – the most effective family policy to secure women’s employment – increased the individual probability for women of having a second child, whereas other types of institutional support such as leave schemes or cash transfers did not have such a positive effect. Interacting institutional and individual variables, it also appeared that the positive effect of employment on the transition to second childbirth was reinforced in countries with high childcare coverage.

Policy implications

In a context of rising levels of education for women, public policies aiming at facilitating parents to realize their fertility intentions should favor dual employment patterns for parents. Being in employment is favorable to second childbirths, especially for highly educated women. Our research suggests that this ‘high-road’ equilibrium combining women’s employment and replacement fertility rates can be reached by policies favoring work-life family balance through the development of childcare and the stabilization of employment before and after childbirth for both men and women.

[1] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/european-union-statistics-on-income-and-living-conditions

[2] http://www.oecd.org/els/family/database.htm

[3] Several studies suggest that child care coverage is a determinant rather than a consequence for fertility, as countries with low child care coverage tend to have an excess demand for childcare (Wrohlich, 2008; Thévenon, 2015). This is why we consider childcare coverage as a proxy for access to childcare for parents. The higher the coverage, the easier is generally the access for parents to childcare.


Breton D., Prioux F., 2009, “The one-child family: France in the European context”, Demographic Research, 20(27), pp. 657-692.

d’Albis H., Gobbi P., Greulich A., 2017, “Having a Second Child and Access to Childcare: Evidence from European Countries.” Journal of Demographic Economics, Vol. 83 Issue 02, pages 177-210.

Frejka, T., Sardon J.-P., 2007, “Cohort birth order, parity progression ratio and parity distribution trends in developed countries”, Demographic Research, 16(11), pages 315-374.

Frejka, T., Sobotka T., 2008, “Fertility in Europe: Diverse, delayed and below Replacement”, Demographic Research, Special Collection 7, Frejka T., Sobotka T., Hoem

Greulich A., Guergoat-Larivière M., Thévenon O.,2017, “Employment and second childbirths in Europe.” Population-E, 2017-4

Sobotka T., Beaujouan E., 2014, “Two is best? The persistence of a two-child family ideal in Europe”, Population and Development Review, 40(3), pp. 391-419.

Thévenon,O. 2015, “Decreasing fertility in Europe: Is it a policy issue? In Christiane Timmerman, Jacques Haers, Sara Mels, Koenraad Matthijs, and Karel Neels (eds.), Population Change in Europe, the Middle-East 1 and North Africa: Beyond the Demographic Divide. Ashgate, Routledge,New York, 81–118

Wrohlich , K., 2008, “The excess demand for subsidized child care in Germany.” Applied Economics 40(10), 1217–1228.

Source of this article: http://www.niussp.org/article/facilitating-family-enlargement-in-europe/




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The reason the richest women in the US are the ones having the most kids

https://qz.com recently published an interesting article about the socioeconomic differential of fertility behavior in the US:

It’s one of the best-established relationships in economics: as women’s education and income levels go up, the number of children they have goes down.

But something happened to the American family over the last three decades: that downward slope became a U-turn. Women in families in the top half of the income spectrum are having more kids than their similar-earning counterparts did 20 years ago. Women from the very richest households are now having more children than those less-well off. Less than 28% of 40- to 45-year-old women in a household in any income bracket below $500,000 per year have three or more children, according to data from the 2011-2015 US Census, while 31.3% of families earning more than $500,000 do.


Money has always given wealthy people the option to pay for things that make it easier to have large families: childcare, a bigger house, help with chores at home. The ability to welcome as many children as ones likes into a family and afford them generous opportunities (while still pursuing one’s own career and interests) has to be one of wealth’s greatest perks. But a deeper look at the data shows that increasing abundance for families at the top is built on declining opportunities for those at the bottom.

More income and education used to lower fertility precisely because it raised the opportunity costs of having a child. Women lost a lot economically if they cut back on work to attend to an expanding family, so they had fewer kids and invested more in those they had.


But as wealthy people’s income rose faster—much faster—than poor people’s, it became that much easier for the wealthier to hire low-wage workers to help them care for their children, according to an analysis of the US trend at the UK’s Centre for Economic Policy Research. US families in the top 25% of the income distribution have spent drastically more on childcare since 1990, while those in the bottom quarter were generally priced out of the childcare market, opting instead to leave children with relatives and neighbors.


It’s part of a larger trend of wealthy families investing increasing amounts of time and money in their children’s education and development. It’s also given women at the upper end of the socioeconomic spectrum more choices. In 1990, a woman with an advanced degree was more than twice as likely to not have children as a less-educated woman, the authors found. Today well-educated women are just as likely to be mothers as anyone else.

“When inequality grows, people who have higher incomes can afford to hire people with lower incomes more easily,” said David Weiss, an economics lecturer at Tel Aviv University and a co-author of the paper. “As soon as you can do that, rich women can hire help to take care of their children and simultaneously have a career.”

Inequality has given women the freedom to “have it all”—but only for those who already have a lot.

Source: https://qz.com

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First birth postponement and fertility in Europe

The postponement of first childbirth has been occurring in most European countries for some decades now. In public and media discussion, delayed childbearing is often rather glibly associated with the fact that more women are going to university and getting jobs, and that they consequently want fewer children. Researchers find that for women born in 1965 and earlier, birth postponement, be it caused by education and career investments or by economic uncertainty, has led to higher childlessness and lower family size in Europe (Philipov and Kohler 2001; Kohler, Billari and Ortega 2002; Frejka and Sardon 2006; Sobotka 2003 and 2004).

Signs of a trend reversal?

However, our analysis suggests that the picture will be less clear for women who are currently at childbearing age. By taking into account younger cohorts and a larger set of European countries, and by differentiating between socio-economic determinants of birth postponement, we find evidence that under certain circumstances, birth postponement may facilitate rather than impede family formation.

Our analysis is based on survey data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), which can be used to examine the interaction between demographic and socio-economic variables for a large number of European countries. We apply a ‘synthetic cohort approach’ and compile data specifically to reduce endogeneity (education and labour market status are observed before the potential conception of a first child) and to eliminate truncation (semi-retrospective approach to avoid observing women who have not yet completed education) and other possible structural effects (see d’Albis, Greulich and Ponthière, 2017, for more details on the methodology).

Education and its impact on the timing and extent of first childbirth


Figure 1 shows the extent of the “first childbirth” phenomenon by age for various educational levels (averages for 28 European countries), or, in simpler words, the percentage of women who have had at least one child, by age and education. This percentage increases with age. Figure 1 shows that by age 45, the oldest age considered, 71.6% of women with low education have had a first birth, 70.8% of those with medium education, and 81.0% of those with high education. Figure 1 also illustrates that higher education is associated with birth postponement. Low-educated women are more likely to have a child while they are young than women with medium and high education. The percentage with a “first childbirth” is higher up to age 32. By contrast, women with high education tend to have their first child later than other women, as seen in their lower percentage up to age 32. However, Figure 1 shows that they are more likely to become mothers at some point.

It is tempting to interpret the findings of our synthetic cohort as showing highly educated women ‘catching up’ with the fertility of less educated women. However, the figure must not be seen in this way, because our calculations are based on a cross-sectional sample including thirty cohorts, rather than a single cohort monitored over time. The figure shows, nevertheless, a picture of the current fertility behaviour of those cohorts who are now at childbearing age.

Regional differences

We find the same stylized fact in all subgroups of countries: in all regions of Europe, more educated women wait longer before having their first child than less educated women; but ultimately, highly educated women are more likely to become mothers by the end of their childbearing years. However, the regions differ in terms of the size of the gap between women of different education levels. In the Nordic countries, the gap between high- and low-educated women is substantial. In Central and Eastern Europe, the gap is negligible and the percentage of women with a first birth is relatively low in all education groups. Consequently, educational level is a much better predictor of childlessness at age 45 in the Nordic countries than in other European regions. The fact that highly educated women are most likely to become mothers in the Nordic countries might be linked to the fact that public institutions in this region are particularly supportive of maternal employment. Of course, other labour market-related issues such as job stability and income security may also play a part here.

When analysing the timing and extent of first childbirth by age and activity status, we find that, for all ages, the extent is higher for women who work than for those who do not. The gap between working and non-working women remains wide until the end of the childbearing years. It seems that unsuccessful integration into the labour market not only postpones first childbirth, but sometimes also prevents it.


Our analysis contributes to the discussion on the connection between birth postponement and fertility levels for younger cohorts in European countries. Our results suggest that public policies that encourage educational investment, promote secure employment and help parents to combine work and family life all have the potential to increase fertility despite birth postponement.

Of course, our conclusion is only partial: to get a complete picture one would need to analyse and forecast the extent of all birth orders by education, activity status and institutional context. But the signs of a reversal of past trends are visible: postponement need not be associated with lower fertility among future cohorts in Europe.

Source: niussp.org


d’Albis H., Greulich A., Ponthière G. (2017): “Education, labour, and the demographic consequences of births postponement in Europe.” Demographic Research, Vol. 36, Art. 23, pages 691-728.

Frejka T., Sardon J.-P. (2006): “First birth trends in developed countries: Persisting parenthood postponement.” Demographic Research, Vol. 15, Art. 6, pages 147-180.

Kohler H.-P., Billari F. C., Ortega J.A. (2002): “The emergence of lowest-low fertility in Europe during the 1990s.” Population and Development Review 28(4), 641–681.

Philipov D., Kohler H.-P. (2001): “Tempo effects in the fertility decline in Eastern Europe: Evidence from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia.” European Journal of Population 17(1): 37-60.

Sobotka, T. (2003): “Tempo-quantum and period-cohort interplay in fertility changes in Europe. Evidence from the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.” Demographic Research 8(6): 151-213.

Sobotka, T. (2004): “Is lowest-low fertility in Europe explained by the postponement of childbearing?” Population and Development Review 30, p. 195‑220.

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Pour un congé parental court, bien rémunéré et partagé entre les parents

Le congé parental a connu d’importantes modifications au nom de l’égalité hommes-femmes et pour inciter les pères à y avoir recours. Pourtant, la réforme peine à se montrer efficace. Pour aller plus loin, la France doit raccourcir la durée du congé parental tout en proposant une substitution du salaire net à chaque parent.

Depuis le 1er janvier 2015, le Complément de libre choix d’activité (CLCA) a laissé place à la Prestation partagée d’éducation de l’enfant (PreParE). Pour le premier enfant, le versement de la PreParE passe de six mois à un an si les deux parents prennent un congé. À partir du deuxième enfant, la prestation peut être versée jusqu’aux 3 ans de l’enfant comme auparavant, mais chaque parent ne peut prendre que 24 mois au maximum. C’est donc au second parent de prendre les 12 mois restants si le couple veut profiter de la durée maximale.

Par cette mesure, le gouvernement voulait permettre aux femmes de retourner plus rapidement sur le marché du travail après la naissance (ou l’adoption) de leur enfant, et inciter davantage les pères à s’arrêter de travailler pour élever leur enfant. C’est plutôt raté, car le dispositif reste très majoritairement utilisé par les femmes. Fin 2015, les hommes représentaient à peine plus de 5% des bénéficiaires du congé parental, contre 3,3% en 2014, selon la Cnaf. C’est toujours principalement les femmes qui s’occupent des tout jeunes enfants, au détriment de leur carrière. Par conséquent, les femmes sont actuellement toujours moins bien payées que les hommes (28% de moins dans le privé), ce qui nuit à leur indépendance économique et leur prévoyance vieillesse. Les pères passent, par ailleurs, toujours beaucoup moins de temps avec leurs enfants qu’ils le souhaitent.

L’échec de cette réforme est principalement lié au fait que la PreParE est toujours d’un montant forfaitaire (moins de 400 euros par mois en cas de cessation totale d’activité). Faute d’allocation suffisante, les couples ne peuvent pas se permettre de laisser celui qui gagne le plus s’arrêter.

La France est donc enferrée dans un cercle vicieux: l’inégalité salariale incite les femmes (qui ont un plus petit salaire) à interrompre leur activité professionnelle pour une durée toujours très longue, ce qui creuse encore un peu plus l’inégalité salariale entre hommes et femmes.

Il est donc l’heure d’oser une mesure beaucoup plus progressiste en France. Mais comment faire? Comme souvent en ce qui concerne la politique sociale et l’égalité homme/femme, un regard vers la Suède s’avère utile. Celle-ci propose un congé parental de 13 mois rémunéré à 80% du salaire net (plafonné à 4.000 euros par mois) pour chaque enfant. Les parents profitent de la totalité des 13 mois uniquement si le deuxième parent prend lui-même au moins deux mois de congé.

La Suède est le premier pays européen à avoir instauré ce type de congé parental, en 1974. Aujourd’hui, 90% des pères suédois profitent de ce positif. L’Allemagne a adopté ce modèle en 2007 en proposant 67% du salaire net, plafonné à 1.800 euros par mois.  Si les pères demandent au moins deux mois d’arrêt, le congé parental peut être porté à quatorze mois au total au lieu de douze. Environ un quart des pères allemands profitent actuellement de ce dispositif. L’effet de la reforme allemande reste mitigé, principalement en raison du sous-développement des services de garde pour les tout jeunes enfants. Cette situation rend donc difficile toute évolution dans les rôles traditionnels de genre en Allemagne.

La France n’a pas ce handicap. Les modes de garde y sont relativement bien développés comparé à ses voisins européens, ce qui faciliterait un partage plus égal des responsabilités entre parents. Pour donner un coup de pouce significatif, la France doit raccourcir la durée du congé parental tout en remplaçant le transfert forfaitaire par une indemnité versée à titre compensatoire. L’idée est de proposer une substitution du salaire net d’environ 80% (calculée sur la base des deux années antérieures et plafonnées pour les très hauts salaires). Pour favoriser de façon résolue un partage entre les parents, chaque parent aurait le droit d’en profiter pour une période de maximum six mois après le congé maternité/paternité.

Oui, cette mesure est anti-redistributive. Mais elle favorise une insertion professionnelle avant et peu après la naissance d’un enfant pour les deux sexes. Encourager et faciliter l’accès à un emploi stable reste la meilleure façon de lutter contre les inégalités –de tout genre. La France doit se rattraper également dans ce domaine. Enfin, il est évident que la politique doit encourager un changement de paradigme dans le monde des entreprises afin de permettre aux parents de mieux se partager les responsabilités économiques et éducatives. Gardons en tête qu’en Suède, une journée de travail standard se termine vers 16h30 en moyenne pour tout salarié.

Et oui, cette mesure coûtera cher. Mais il est temps d’investir. Et n’oublions pas que l’activité professionnelle des femmes, qui augmentera avec cette mesure, générera des recettes fiscales supplémentaires. Si cela ne semble pas suffisant, faisons encore une fois comme la Suède: l’installation d’une imposition individuelle (donc la suppression du quotient conjugal/familial) qui libérerait des moyens énormes pouvant être réinvestis pour reformer le congé parental, pour renforcer le système de mode de garde et d’éducation et pour lancer d’autres politiques sociales qui permettent de réduire les inégalités de revenu.

Angela Greulich

Article publié ici: slate.fr


Angela Greulich

Angela Greulich(1 article)
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Lessons from Europe? What Japan Can Learn from European Family Policies.

Most developed countries with relatively high fertility rates around replacement level (2.1 children per women), like France or the Nordic countries, have a comprehensive mix of different family policy instruments. The reason why these countries have been experiencing a re-increase in fertility rates over the last decade cannot be attributed to one single family policy measure such as cash benefits, but the whole policy setting and its interactions with labor market participation and gender equality has to be considered.


It is true that countries like France or Sweden have relatively generous child allowances (lump sum cash transfers), but other instruments like child care subsidies or parental leave pay are even more generous and even more important. In general, we can observe that countries which privilege cash transfers against child care or parental leave, such as Germany, Italy  and many Eastern European countries, have relatively low fertility rates (around 1.4 children per women). Giving pure financial incentives to parents, in the form of monthly cash transfers or generous birth grants, seems not to be a fruitful way to increase fertility.

What seems to work more is offering parents the possibility to combine work and family life. In high fertility countries such as France and Sweden, most women, even the highly qualified, work and have children at the same time. In low fertility countries such as Germany, Austria or Italy, women either work or have children. If they have children, many women work maximum part time. It is rare that women with young children work full time in these countries. The dichotomous choice between having children and pursuing a career results in the fact that many high qualified women postpone their first childbirth (they often have their first child after the age of 35 and then do not have a child of higher birth order) or do not have children at all. This reduces total fertility rates.

It seems that like in Germany, Japanese women have to decide between work and family life. Once they want to start a family, they are supposed to stop their working activities. Especially highly educated women therefore often opt for staying childless. Those families with one child often cannot afford having a second child, as the man is the only earner in the family and the women stays at home. Dual earner couples are observed to have the highest likelihood of enlarging a family from one to two or more children in European countries with fertility levels around or above replacement level (France, Nordic countries).

How can family policies increase the work-life balance? France and Sweden for example invests a lot in an area-wide child care system. The child care coverage rate for the youngest children below the age of three is above 40 percent in both countries, whereas in Germany and Austria the rate is only around 15 percent. In France, public child care, “crèches” (nurseries), nannies, and child miners, are generously subsidized and children go to an all-day school from the age of three on.  In Sweden, parental leave provides parents a 80 percent net wage substitution during a maximum period of 12 months after childbirth. The maximum period can only be reached if both parents take 6 months each. The maximum individual leave period is 6 month. This encourages parents (the woman, but also the man!) to work before childbirth, to return to the labor market shortly after childbirth and to share tasks among parents.

Together with cash transfers for parents with low income, child care policies and parental leave policies can contribute to a comprehensive policy mix facilitating parents’ work-life balance. Over and above, family policies are all the more efficient if they go hand in hand with labor market and gender equality policies encouraging women’s careers (mentoring programs, quotas, decent working conditions after return of maternity or parental leave etc.).

By encouraging parental work-life balance, family policies can not only succeed in fulfilling pro-natalist objectives. By increasing female employment, they can also reduce income poverty, increase gender equality, create tax income, and by all these means support child development and prevent population aging.

By Angela Greulich

The article has been published by japan-forward.com on 06/01/2017

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Two or three children? Turkish fertility at a crossroads.

In Turkey, female employment and education are still relatively low, while fertility levels are high compared to other European countries. However, Turkey stands on the brink of an important social transition. Increasing female education and employment are being accompanied by important decreases in fertility. By mobilizing census and survey data (SILC), we find that parents’ decision for or against a third child is of particular importance for fertility levels in Turkey. Graduate women participating in the formal labor market are most likely to decide against larger family size in comparison to inactive or unemployed women. Their contribution to household income seems to be important and cannot be given up, especially if the couple already has two children. Policies enabling women to combine work and family life, which have been proven effective in other European countries, emerge therefore as useful to avoid fertility declining below replacement levels in Turkey.

Article written by Angela Greulich, Aruélien Dasre and Ceren Inan

Two or Three Children? Turkish Fertility at a Crossroads”  Population and Development Review, 42(3): 537-559, September 2016.


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Rebond de la fécondité » dans les pays développés, automatisme ou apanage de quelques rares privilégiés ?

L’inversion de la tendance, appelée « rebond de la fécondité », qui accompagne le processus de développement économique dans certains pays développés, mais pas dans tous, montre que l’incidence du développement économique sur la fécondité est ambiguë. Le caractère positif ou négatif de cette incidence dépend de nombreux facteurs, en plus de la dimension économique. Dans la mesure où la fécondité affecte la croissance démographique et la pyramide des âges, ses évolutions dans un futur immédiat ont des conséquences très importantes sur le développement économique, la croissance de la productivité et certains aspects de la protection sociale. Par conséquent, le fait de savoir si de nouveaux progrès économiques sont susceptibles de provoquer un rebond de la fécondité dans les pays très développés revêt un intérêt politique, social et économique majeur.

Cet article apporte un éclairage sur les moteurs potentiels de la fécondité dans les pays très développés. En dressant un état de l’art de la littérature empirique, il répond à la question : le phénomène du « rebond de la fécondité » est-il susceptible, et dans quelles conditions, de devenir un fait stylisé dans les pays développés dans un avenir proche ?

Plan de l’article:

  1. Le phénomène du rebond de la fécondité
  2. Dans quelle mesure les décisions en matière de fécondité sont-elles déterminées par le contexte macroéconomique des pays ?
  3. Le développement économique : une condition nécessaire, mais pas suffisante au rebond de la fécondité
  4. L’emploi des femmes fait toute la différence
  5. Importance de la réconciliation entre vie professionnelle et vie familiale
  6. Les femmes ayant suivi des études et ayant un emploi ont-elles plus d’enfants ?
  7. Panorama : le rebond de la fécondité en période de crise économique

English Version:

The Fertility “Rebound” in Developed Countries – Automatism or Privilege of a “Happy Few”?

The reversal of the fertility trend, also called “fertility-rebound”, that comes along with the process of economic development in some but not in all developed countries shows that the impact of economic development on fertility is ambiguous. Whether this impact is positive or negative depends on many factors, over and above the economic dimension. As fertility affects population growth and the age structure of the population, changes in fertility in the immediate future have far-reaching consequences on economic development, productivity growth and aspects of welfare systems. It is therefore of major political, social and economic interest to know whether further economic advancement is likely to provoke a rebound of fertility in highly developed countries.
This article sheds light on the potential drivers of fertility in highly developed countries. By establishing a state of the art of the empirical literature on this subject, the article answers the question if and under what circumstances the phenomenon of a “fertility rebound” is likely to become a stylized fact in developed countries in the near future.

Source de l’article: www.cairn.info



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Aging with Growth: How to tackle low fertility in European Countries

With regard to fertility, reducing the obstacles to people having children has become an issue of growing importance in the policy agenda of many Central European and Baltic countries. Persistently falling fertility has pressed policymakers into action in many countries, with the aim of reducing barriers to family formation.

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Indeed, the evidence is that people in general want two children and yet are having on average smaller families that they would like. The decline in fertility in Central Europe and the Baltics is mostly due to women not having a second child. Childlessness is unusual. Only 12 percent of women on average have no children in Central Europe and the Baltics, compared to 22 percent in Italy or 24 percent in Germany. However, while in the higher fertility countries like Denmark, Ireland, or Sweden, about 80 percent of women having one child decide in favor of a second child, in some Central Europe and the Baltics under 60 percent of women make this choice.

Improving  families’  economic  circumstances is important for increasing fertility in Central European and the Baltic countries. Affordability or economic stability seems to dominate the decision to have a second child in Central European and Baltic countries. Several studies suggest that job instability along with income uncertainty are important reasons. Explaining low fertility, especially in Central European countries such as Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic (Goldstein et al. 2009, 2013; Mishtal 2009).

For less rich EU countries then the general economic circumstances facing families would appear critical in driving the decision for whether or not to have more children. For the highest income countries, there is evidence that “successful”  labor market integration after  the  birth  of  a  first  child  seems  to  facilitate  women’s decision to have a second child. Recent research points to a re-increase in fertility in several highly developed countries (Myrskilä  et  al. 2009,  Greulich-Luci and Thévenon, 2014). For these countries, the pattern between total fertility rates and economic development is actually inverse J-shaped. This means that the correlation between economic development, as measured by GDP per capita, and fertility turns from negative to positive from a certain relatively high level of development on.

The re-increase in fertility that comes hand in hand with economic development is particularly striking in countries such as France and the United States. In other countries like Germany and Austria, this rebound is less developed, and fertility has stagnated – despite high levels of economic development – at relatively low levels below replacement.

Economic development is thus not sufficient to explain why the fertility rebound occurs in some developed countries, but not in others. Empirical evidence points to female employment as the main explanatory variable behind the re-increase in fertility (Luci-Greulich  and  Thévenon  2014).

In other words, the fertility rebound happens only in those countries in which female employment rates are relatively high. A recent analysis for the EU economies, finds that women being in stable employment after having a first child significantly increases the odds of having a second child (Luci-Greulich,  Thévenon  and  Guergoat-Larivière 2013). These results are stronger for high fertility countries, such as Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. However, they do not hold in all Central European and Baltic countries, such as Bulgaria,Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia, which have high full-time employment rates, low fertility rates, and a low average probability of a second child. In these countries, the evidence suggests that even for those in employment the costs of having a further child may be too high to bear.

Child care coverage for young children (aged 0 to 2) appears to be the important instrument  for  women’s  decision  to  have  a  second  child  in  comparison  to  other  family policies  such  as maternity and parental leave or cash benefits. Cross-country studies have investigated the impact on fertility rates of money transfers, leave and childcare policies, and expenditures for families. Each instrument of the family policy package (paid leave, childcare services and financial transfers) is found to have a positive influence on average, suggesting that the combination of these forms of support for working  parents  during  their  children’s  early  years  is  likely  to  facilitate  their  decision  to  have children. These results are consistent with the findings of studies focusing on country- specific situations and/or analyzing more precisely the impact of a single measure or a policy reform. Policy levers are not found to have the same weight, however: the provision of childcare services for children under age three have a larger potential influence on fertility (Luci-Greulich  and  Thévenon, 2014).

However, from the results of this analysis and those of country-specific studies, country context is clearly important. For countries where unstable or low incomes prevent families from growing, progressive tax and benefit policies may play an important role in supporting families to expand.

Source: What’s next in aging Europe? Washington, DC: World Bank. World Bank (2015)

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Avoir un enfant plus tard. Enjeux sociodémographiques du report des naissances.

Les évolutions de la natalité sont le plus souvent appréhendées à l’aune d’un unique indicateur, le nombre d’enfants par femme. Pourtant, le calendrier des naissances, c’est-à-dire les âges auxquels une mère donne naissance à ses enfants, éclaire utilement les dynamiques sociodémographiques. L’âge de la maternité se révèle, en particulier, être un marqueur social car il s’accroît avec les niveaux d’éducation et de revenus des parents. Aujourd’hui, parmi celles ayant le moins de perspectives sociales, on trouve souvent des filles-mères.
Force est de constater que le calendrier des naissances est naturellement lié aux autres décisions importantes qui rythment le cycle de vie : nombre d’enfants, bien sûr, mais aussi temps consacré aux études et rôle des femmes sur le marché du travail. Même si on a trop souvent tendance à s’alarmer du report des naissances, les âges de la maternité ne sont pas des variables ni des objectifs des politiques publiques ; c’est plutôt le contraire : ils réagissent indirectement à certaines politiques, et peuvent de ce fait en annihiler les effets.
Dans cet opuscule, le calendrier des naissances sert à lire certaines dynamiques sociales, économiques et démographiques propres aux sociétés européennes et, en particulier, aux sociétés française et allemande. Nous mettons en perspective le phénomène de report des naissances qui caractérise depuis plusieurs décennies la démographie européenne en analysant précisément ses ressorts et implications.

Les auteurs

Hippolyte d’ALBIS est professeur à l’université Paris 1 et à l’École d’économie de Paris. Il travaille sur les conséquences macro-économiques des évolutions démographiques et sur la démographie du vieillissement.

Angela GREULICH est maître de conférences à l’Université Paris 1. Ses thèmes de recherches portent sur la démographie, l’emploi des femmes et les politiques sociales. Plus précisément, elle analyse l’impact des conditions du marché du travail et des politiques familiales sur les décisions de fécondité et d’offre de travail des couples.

Grégory PONTHIÈRE est professeur à l’Université Paris Est et à l’École d’économie de Paris, et membre junior de l’Institut universitaire de France. Ses recherches portent sur les interactions entre les variables économiques (production, consommation, bien-être) et les variables démographiques (fécondité, mortalité), dans des perspectives positives et normatives.



1. Historique du report des naissances en France
Descendance finale et report des naissances
Deux cas polaires : fécondité précoce et fécondité tardive
Une comparaison avec la démographie de l’Allemagne

2. Le report des naissances implique-t-il une baisse de la natalité ?
La question du choix des indicateurs démographiques
Une analyse de la démographie européenne

3. Pourquoi les couples ont-ils leurs enfants de plus en plus tard ?
Le rôle du niveau d’éducation des femmes
Retour sur la comparaison entre l’Allemagne et la France
Le rôle de la situation des femmes sur le marché du travail

4. Quel rôle pour les politiques publiques ?
Des effets différenciés selon les instruments considérés
Des fondements normatifs difficiles à établir
Quelques implications pour les politiques publiques



Liste des figures et des tableaux

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