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Francesco C. Billari Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, IMQ, IGIER - Università Bocconi, Milan, Italy - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Demographic challenges for the 21 st century. A state of the art in Demography --a tribute to Prof. Dr. Em. Ron Lesthaeghe Vrije Universiteit Brussel, February 15-16, 2007.

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Francesco C. Billari Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, IMQ, IGIER - Università Bocconi, Milan, Italy

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Demographic challenges for the 21st century.

A state of the art in Demography

--a tribute to Prof. Dr. Em. Ron Lesthaeghe

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, February 15-16, 2007

Discussion of “Recent developments in demographically relevant attitudes and behaviour: New challenges for a new era?”, by Aart C. Liefbroer & Tineke Fokkema

Francesco C. Billari

Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, IMQ, IGIER - Università Bocconi, Milan, Italy


The paper

  • … tradition and innovation

  • … continuity and change

  • … evolution and revolution

  • … unity and diversity

  • Aat & Tineke put themselves in the tradition of macro-level analyses on values and behaviour that has helped in documenting the spread of the SDT, and that has been used vividly by Ron and his colleagues


The paper

  • However, they are also somehow rejecting Ron’s authority, consistent with the SDT and their altruism on dealing with the issue also as a present is turning into egoism: under which conditions are value orientations free to operate?

  • Innovation in SDT thinking


The paper

  • Key finding: the macro-level association of values and behaviour is clear when we look at marriage. It is not at all clear (---even the opposite---) when we look at fertility

  • Continuity in the use of factor analysis, change in the original use of ISSP+LFS, random-effect models


Critical issues

  • … difficult task for this paper!

  • On correlations… (& laggard countries): should one rather look at lagged correlations between observed behaviour and past SDT scores?

  • On new norms…SDT seems really a marriage-only transition. Could it be that marriage-related behaviours emerge as new norms, while fertility-related behaviours are not?


Critical issues

  • On legal norms… Why the Polish exception? What is happening in Italy these days? One of the explanations could be the influence of the Catholic Church on legal norms—with a clear disconnection between what is legally normative and what is socially normative.

  • These are still constraints! Acceptance of cohabitation with e.g. welfare discrimination against cohabitants might hamper behaviour.


Critical issues

  • On welfare… what you imply is that welfare enables the realisation of life projects and therefore seems to be a pre-requisite for the diffusion of the SDT including the realisation of fertility expectations.

  • “Macro-level convergence to micro-level diversity” or “Decommodification”

  • Is this the case? What about the US? Is it welfare or economic wellbeing?


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