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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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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
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 paper3
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 paper4
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
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 issues6
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 issues7
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?