Explaining Differential Fertility Trajectories within Europe: The Roles of Catholicism, Pro-Natalist Policy, and Family Structure

Daniel Adkins, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Francois Nielsen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Northwestern Europe has been known historically as the leading edge of the fertility decline associated with the demographic transition, with Southern and Eastern Europe later following a similar trajectory. However, in the 1980s through most of the 1990s, Northwestern Europe's TFR rose quickly, while Southern Europe's remained at very low below replacement levels and Eastern Europe's actually declined further. Using micro-level data from the Luxembourg Income Surveys (LIS), in conjunction with pooled time series data for 23 European countries, the authors analyze the influences of religion, pro-natalist social policy, and family structure, as well as political and economic factors, on the distinctive regional patterns of fertility within Europe. It is found that this combination of factors largely explain current European fertility trends. These results emphasize the importance of cultural factors, such as religion, which are often neglected in demographic research.

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Presented in Session 93: Very Low Fertility II