Sunday, June 29, 2008

New York Times on the challenge of lower fertility

The New York Times Magazine has an interesting story on how low fertility is impacting Europe and how governments are beginning to respond. A few points stand out:

  • Fertility appears to follow a U-shaped curve based on the status of women in society. In low-status societies fertility is high; it drops as women enter the labor force, if those countries also retain traditional views regarding working women, men's roles in raising children, etc.; then it rise again in countries where public opinion and public policies are geared toward allowing women to both work and raise children.
  • High fertility is associated with both generous social provision as in Scandinavia or flexible labor markets, as in the U.S. In different ways, the accommodate women who wish to both have children and continue working.
  • Various countries are implementing policies to increase birth rates. It is not yet clear how effective these policies will be, and whether those effects are primarily on the number or the timing of births.

The whole story is well worth reading.

No comments: