Consequences of family policies on childbearing behaviour: effects or artefacts?

Gerda Neyer, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Gunnar Andersson, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This paper deals with issues that demographers encounter when investigating the consequences of family policies on fertility behaviour. We discuss contextual, configurational, and methodological aspects of such research. First, we examine the relationship between family policies and European welfare-state setups. We show that there are different types of relationships which may have different effects regarding the consequences of family policies on demographic behaviour. Second, we investigate the nature of family policies. We demonstrate that cross-nationally ostensibly similar policies may in fact differ widely and we discuss the consequences of such issues for demographic research. Third, given these contextual and configurational aspects of family policies we investigate methodological implications for the study of policy effects. We concentrate on issues of time, space, and use of family policies and present empirical examples to illustrate the need to control intervening factors in order to avoid looking at artefacts rather than effects of policies.

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Presented in Session 178: Sustaining replacement fertility: international comparative studies