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.

Sommaire

Introduction

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

Conclusions

Bibliographie

Liste des figures et des tableaux

Accès à l’ouvrage:

Presses ENS

en ligne

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Female breadwinners on the rise in Europe

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About one in three women in cohabiting or married couples in the UK earned more than 50% of their household income in 2010, according to the Family Resources Survey, up from one in ten in 1980.

But it is not easy to give a precise estimate of the number of female breadwinners. The
number changes significantly depending on the definition that we use to identify femalebreadwinner households. For example, based on analysis in Luxembourg, if we consider as breadwinners those women who earn at least 60% of their household income, female breadwinners only represent one in five couples.

Whatever the definition, female breadwinners are on the rise in all developed countries. The prevalence of female breadwinners in the UK (about one in three) is in line with the European average. Female breadwinning among partnered, childless women is especially widespread in Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia, where more than 40% of women are the main earner. Female breadwinners are rare (about 20%) in Romania, Slovakia, Southern European and German-speaking countries, which all currently lag behind in European rankings for female labour force participation and gender equality.

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A first type of female breadwinners is represented by single women who, when employed, by definition earn 100% of their household income. Single mothers belong to this category.

A recent study on maternal breadwinning by the UK think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research showed that there are about 2m female breadwinners with dependent children in Britain. Of these, 44% are single mothers and the remaining 56% are in a partnership.

Breadwinner mothers – both with or without a partner – tend to be aged 40 and over, have a university education and are mainly employed in the service and public sectors. The highest prevalence of breadwinner mothers is found in Wales, London and the North West.

There are two distinct factors driving the unprecedented increase in the number of femalebreadwinner couples: women’s career ambitions and economic necessity driven by men’s unemployment or underemployment.

In the first category we find couples where women are a step ahead of their partners on the career ladder. These women tend to be childless, highly educated and more educated than their partners. Although these types of couple are still rare, they are expected to increase substantially in the coming years. In fact, among the younger generations, women in the OECD are now more educated than men, on average. Some in the US have argued that this abundance of high-educated women and scarcity of high-educated men causes a shortage of marriageable men. As a result, the educational composition of couples is now changing. Hypogamic couples (couples where women are more educated than their partners and hence have a higher earning potential) are on the rise in Europe, while an opposite trend is found for hypergamic couples (couples where women are less educated than their partners).

It would be great if all families with female-breadwinners were the result of a joint couple decision. This would be a sign of changing norms regarding the role of women and men toward gender equality. But this is not necessarily the case.

In fact, a second category of female-breadwinner families consists of households where both partners have low levels of education, belong to the low or middle-income groups and have difficulties in making ends meet. Being a female-breadwinner family is rarely a spontaneous choice in this case. Rather, it is driven by economic necessity.

Not surprisingly, this category of female-breadwinner couples increased substantially during the years of the 2008 economic crisis in those countries whose economies were especially affected by the recession, such as Southern European countries, Ireland and some Eastern European countries. In these countries, an increasing number of low-income households have become more dependent upon women’s labour income due to declining real earnings and increased unemployment in the male-dominated sectors.

If men are more involved in childcare and housework than they used to be, breadwinner
women still contribute more housework than men. Some men strongly believe that a careeroriented woman should have a partner who bears the burden at home, just like breadwinner men always had in the past. Other men suffer from symptoms of depression when they are out-earned by their partner and are more likely to have extramarital affairs. Female-breadwinners couples challenge the logic of the traditional male-breadwinner and female-homemaker model of the family. Because it is a relatively new phenomenon, more research is needed on the social and demographic consequences of this ongoing rise in female breadwinners

Source: theconversation.com

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Japan’s ticking demographic time bomb

Insufficient gender equality lead to Japan’s fertility levels being way beyond replacement level. In Japan, it is more or less impossible for women to combine a professional career with having children. This will harm the socioeconomic equilibrium of the country.

20140626124207Evolution of the total fertility rate in Japan

An article recently published in Business Insider UK reveals:

The Japanese press has taken to calling it sekkusu shinai shokogun: celibacy syndrome.

Basically, the country just isn’t that interested in sex — and it could have huge effects beyond its borders.

The most recent evidence comes in a survey by the Japan Family Planning Association, reported on in the Japan Times.

A full 49.3% of respondents between the ages of 16 and 49 in the 1,134-person survey said they hadn’t had sex in the past month.

There was a minor gender variation:

  • 48.3% of men reported not having sex
  • 50.1% of women reported not having sex

According to Japan Times, both figures showed a 5% increase since two years ago.

Respondents gave a range of reasons as to why: 21.3% of married men and 17.8% married women cited fatigue from work, and 23% of married women said sex was “bothersome.” And 17.9% of male respondents said they had little interest (or a strong dislike) of sex.

Other research suggests even more extreme trends.

According to a 2011 report from Japan’s population center cited by Max Fisher at The Washington Post:

  • 27% of men and 23% of women aren’t interested in a romantic relationship
  • From ages 18 to 34, 61% of men and 49% of women aren’t involved in a relationship
  • From ages 18 to 34, 36% of men and 39% of women have never had sex

Experts say “the flight from human intimacy” in Japan comes from having a highly developed economy and high gender inequality. (According to the World Economic Forum, Japan ranks 104 out of 140 countries regarding gender equality, slotted between Armenia and the Maldives).

“Professional women are stuck in the middle of that contradiction,” Fisher writes. “It’s not just that day-care programs are scarce: Women who become pregnant or even just marry are so expected to quit work that they can come under enormous social pressure to do so and often find that career advancement becomes impossible. There’s a word for married working women: oniyome, or ‘devil wives.'”

That puts a squeeze on relational prospects for Japanese women. Fisher reports that women in their early 20s have a 25% chance of never marrying and a 40% chance of never having kids.

Japan’s birth rate hit a record low in 2014 at just over 1 million infants. When combined with 1.3 million deaths in the same year, that’s a deepening population crisis. According to Japan’s population institute, the overall population could dip to 107 million by 2040 — or 20 million lower than today.

At the same time, Japan’s population is shrinking and graying, setting up a “demographic time bomb” that could radiate out globally through the country’s Greece-level national debt and deep economic ties with China and the US.

The Japanese government has stepped in to help with the national trend against relationships: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government wants 80% of fathers to take paternity leave, same as mothers taking maternity leave — while also increasing support for childcare. And one economist recommended a “tax on the handsome” to make geeky guys more attractive to women.

Different “demographic time bombs” are set to go off around the world: In China and India, the birthrates of boys have been outpacing those of girls for such a long time that a “marriage squeeze” is starting to hit both countries.

Source: Businessinsider 01/07/2015

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Égalité homme-femme : un facteur clé de la politique familiale et sociale

Angela Greulich

Le gouvernement français a réaffirmé en juin 2013 que la politique devait favoriser l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes. La participation des femmes au marché du travail, leur carrière professionnelle et leur capacité à retrouver un emploi à la suite d’une maternité deviennent donc des objectifs explicites, non seulement de la politique de l’emploi et de la politique sociale, mais aussi et surtout de la politique familiale.

L’emploi féminin – un objectif transversal

Une plus grande participation des mères au marché du travail réduit non seulement les inégalités de revenus entre sexes, mais aussi entre familles de taille différente. La promotion de l’égalité professionnelle entre hommes et femmes vise à accroître l’indépendance économique des femmes et à susciter un partage plus équitable des tâches domestiques au sein du couple. En outre, des études récentes suggèrent que l’implication des deux parents auprès des enfants a des effets significatifs sur les résultats scolaires et le développement socio-émotionnel des enfants. Enfin, l’égalité homme/femme aurait même des impacts positifs sur la fécondité : Au sein des pays développés, le nombre moyen d’enfants par femme est plus élevé dans les pays où la participation des femmes au marché du travail est elle-même élevée (1). L’offre de garde d’enfants a des effets importants en facilitant à la fois la fécondité et l’emploi des femmes (2). Une meilleure conciliation de la vie professionnelle et de la vie familiale facilite donc l’emploi féminin et la fécondité. Le revenu supplémentaire apporté par la femme sécurise la situation économique du ménage et facilite ainsi l’agrandissement familial (3).

La France – un modèle phare ?

A cet égard, la France tient bien la comparaison avec ses pays voisins, notamment l’Allemagne. En Allemagne, la différence au niveau des heures de travail entre hommes et femmes, et entre femmes sans enfants et mères de famille, est bien plus marquée qu’en France. De plus, on observe en France une augmentation du taux de natalité ces dernières années, alors qu’en Allemagne il stagne à son niveau le plus bas (nombre d’enfants par femme : en France 2.1, en Allemagne 1.35). Les différences dans les domaines de l’emploi des femmes et des taux de fécondité entre l’Allemagne et la France suggèrent qu’en France, emploi et famille se concilient mieux qu’en Allemagne. L’Allemagne peut prendre exemple sur son voisin français dans bien des domaines. Outre la mise en place des structures de garde pour les enfants de tous âges et ouvertes toute la journée, des dispositions pour soutenir les femmes dans leurs ambitions professionnelles sont importantes. Elles permettent notamment de : faciliter aux mères le passage d’un emploi à temps partiel à un poste à temps plein, mettre un terme aux emplois à bas salaires sans protection sociale et de promouvoir les carrières professionnelles des femmes en fixant, entre autres, des règles de quotas au sein des entreprises. Pourtant, en comparaison avec des pays nordiques, la France présente un retard en ce qui concerne la promotion de l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes sur le plan de la politique sociale, familiale et de l’emploi. Plusieurs mesures peuvent être envisagées. Elles consistent par exemple, à préconiser l’imposition individuelle des revenus en transférant le coût implicite des réductions d’impôts à des mesures favorisant la conciliation entre travail et vie familiale. L’une de ces mesures pourrait prendre la forme d’une réforme du congé parental : des congés plus courts et rémunérés proportionnellement aux salaires encourageraient l’activité des parents avant et peu après la naissance d’un enfant. Pour aller plus loin, une individualisation du droit aux congés faciliterait un partage plus égal entre partenaires. Pour favoriser ce partage, la promotion de l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes ne doit cependant pas se cantonner à la politique familiale et doit, notamment, investir les politiques du marché du travail.

  • Luci-Greulich, O. Thévenon (2014): “Does economic development ‘cause’ a re-increase in fertility? An empirical analysis for OECD countries (1960-2007)”, European Journal of Population, Vol. 30, pp.187-221.
  • Luci-Greulich, O. Thévenon (2013): “The impact of family policy packages on fertility trends in developed countries.” European Journal of Population, Vol. 29 N° 4, pp.387-416.
  • Greulich, O. Thévenon, M. Guergoat-Larivière (2015): “Starting or enlarging families? The determinants of low fertility in Europe”. Travail en cours.
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The destructive effects of conflict on women and girls

Source: UN Women

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Sustainable development and gender equality – two objectives that are interdependent

Ahead of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October, UN Women released its new report, the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014: Gender Equality and Sustainable Development. Charting the rationale and the actions necessary to ensure ground-breaking change, the flagship UN study asserts that any comprehensive sustainable development pathway cannot be achieved without an explicit commitment to gender equality, women’s rights and their empowerment. Coming on the heels of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, the World Survey 2014 provides an in-depth analysis of sustainable development issues, the challenges and the solutions, through a gender lens.

World Survey 2014 coverpage

Climate change has tremendous social, economic and environmental consequences. Its effects are being felt in floods, droughts, and devastated landscapes and livelihoods. Women and girls are among the most affected by these changes, given the precariousness of their livelihoods, and because they bear the burden of securing shelter, food, water and fuel, while facing constraints on their access to land and natural resources. As the global community grapples with the challenges of charting trajectories to sustainable development and in defining the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Survey 2014 emphasizes the centrality of gender equality to this endeavour.

The World Survey 2014, issued every five years, focuses this year on the theme of gender equality and sustainable development by examining a select range of issues that are fundamental to women’s lives and are strategic for achieving gender equality and sustainability. These include: patterns of growth, employment generation and the role of public goods; food production, distribution and consumption; population dynamics and women’s bodily integrity; and water, sanitation and energy.

The report uses three critical criteria to assess whether policy actions and investments towards sustainable development adequately address gender equality. These are: Do they support women’s capabilities and enjoyment of their rights? Do they reduce, rather than increase, women’s unpaid care work? And do they embrace women’s equal and meaningful participation as actors, leaders and decision-makers?

“Effective policy actions for sustainability must redress the disproportionate impact on women and girls of economic, social and environmental shocks and stresses. The World Survey 2014 is a thoughtful contribution to our understanding of how gender equality relates to sustainable development. This report will strengthen policy actors in different parts of the world – whether in government, civil society, international agencies or the private sector — towards more robust and effective policy measures and investments,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The World Survey 2014 brings key analytical perspectives grounded in research that shows the deeply unsustainable directions of current patterns of production, consumption and distribution. The causes and underlying drivers of unsustainability and of gender inequality are deeply interlocked. Dominant development models that support particular types of underregulated market-led growth rely on and reproduce gender inequalities, exploiting women’s labour and unpaid care work. Similarly, they also produce environmental problems by overexploiting natural resources and generating pollution, further intensifying gender inequality as women and girls are often disproportionately affected by economic, social and environmental shocks and stresses. While international debate has brought these issues into the spotlight, policy responses still tend not to focus on achieving women’s human rights or gender equality.

The report makes concrete recommendations, calling on Member States to:

  • Develop and implement sustainable development policies that are in line with international norms and standards on gender equality, non-discrimination and human rights;
  • Ensure that macroeconomic policies create decent work and sustainable livelihoods and reduce inequalities based on gender, age, income and other contexts;
  • Promote decent green jobs and adequate wages for agricultural and informal workers, especially women, through labour market regulation and gender-responsive employment policies;
  • Ensure that sustainable population policies are grounded in sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the provision of universally accessible quality sexual and reproductive health services, information and education;
  • Ensure universal access to water, with a goal of reducing unpaid care work; to clean, private and safe sanitation for all women and girls that is responsive to gender-specific needs; and to efficient solid-fuel stoves or cooking technologies that use cleaner fuels and involve women in their design, testing and marketing.

The World Survey 2014 is a UN Secretary-General report mandated by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly. Produced by UN Women, it was previously released by one of UN Women’s predecessor organizations, the Division of the Advancement of Women (DAW).

Source: UN Women: WORLD SURVEY ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT 2014: GENDER EQUALITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

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