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?