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2. A happy father of sextuplets?. 3. No, it is
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3. 3 No, it is … Peter Costello, the Australian Treasurer and would-be future Prime Minister.
4. 4 Australia is not alone Like Australia, the governments of Austria, Singapore and the Republic of Korea have recently introduced massive reforms to support those who have children.
After policy change in Austria in 2002, fertility rose from 1.36 to 1.44 in 2004.
Believers are popping up everywhere. As far as many policy makers are concerned, this evening’s debate is passe.
5. 5 Why is the policy direction changing? Because it has to change.
Very low fertility does not go away of its own accord. Indeed, without effective action, it consolidates.
Goldstein, J., Lutz, W. and Testa, M. 2003. ‘The emergence of sub-replacement family size ideals in Europe’, Population Research and Policy Review, 22 (5-6): 479 – 496.
8. 8 Policy Successes: Hungary 1965
The ‘strong’ conclusion was that the new policies stopped the fall in fertility in Hungary that was underway at that time.
Andorka, R. and Vukovich, G. 1986. ‘The impact of population policy on fertility in Hungary, 1960-1980’, Papers of the International Population Conference, Florence 1985, Volume 3. Liege: International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, 403-412.
German Democratic Republic 1976
An explicitly pronatalist policy package introduced by the German Democratic Republic in 1976 increased fertility in the GDR in the years from 1977 to 1987 by between 15 and 20 per cent.
Buttner, T. and Lutz, W. 1990. ‘Estimating fertility responses to policy measures in the German Demographic Republic’, Population and Development Review, 16(3); 539-555.
9. 9 Sweden’s Fertility Fluctuations Sweden’s fertility fluctuations over the past 20 years cannot be explained sensibly without examining the effects of policy changes.
Whether the direction was up or down, policy was an essential part of the process.
Hoem, J. 2005. ‘Why does Sweden have such high fertility?’, A presentation to the annual meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Demographie, Potsdam, 16 March.
10. 10 Laroque and Salanie 2005
‘Our results suggest that financial incentives play a sizable role in determining fertility decisions in France’.
Laroque, G. and Salanie, B. 2005. ‘Does fertility respond to financial incentives’, CEPR Discussion papers 5007, CEPR.
11. 11 Estonia Early days, but births increased by 6.5% in 2004 following the introduction of a generous new maternity allowance.
12. 12 The Rand Corporation 2004 Re France ‘Family policy has been high on the political agenda ever since (the introduction of the Family Code in 1939), resulting in relatively high fertility rates’.
More generally ‘government policies can have an impact on fertility’.
Grant, J., Hoorens, S., Sivadasan, S. van het Loo, M., DeVanzo, J., Hale, L., Gibson, S. and Butz, W. 2004. Low Fertility and Population Ageing: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Options, RAND: Santa Monica.
13. 13 Adkins 2003 Re 18 European nations: 'a very substantial, significant positive effect (on fertility) of the national mean child benefit level after controlling for other conflating factors’.
Adkins, D. 2003. ‘The role of institutional context in European regional fertility patterns’, Paper presented to the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Boston, March.
16. 16 Gauthier 2004 ‘There appears indeed to be a positive – albeit very small – impact of cash benefits on fertility’.
‘The literature also suggests that policies that support working parents can have an effect on fertility’ (p.16).
Gauthier, A. 2004. ‘Choices, opportunities and constraints on partnership, childbearing and parenting: the policy responses’, Background paper for the European Population Forum 2004: Population Challenges and Policy Responses.
17. 17 Impacts take time Pronatalist policies are likely to be implemented by governments when fertility rates are low. Accordingly, in the early years of implementation of a policy, a substantial policy initiative may be associated with low fertility. Most studies do not take this into account.
Castles. F. 2003. ‘The World Turned Upside Down: Below Replacement Fertility, Changing Preferences and Family-Friendly Public Policy in 21 OECD Countries’, Journal of European Social Policy, 13(3): 209-227.
18. 18 Only a small impact is required In combination with a small tempo adjustment, an increase of 0.3 in TFR would lift all countries into the safety zone of low fertility.
Hence, an impact at the margin is all that is required – but it won’t happen without policy.
19. 19 Remember the 1960s In the 1960s, the majority of demographers were skeptical about the chances that policy could reduce fertility in developing countries.
Now, we can look back on the incredible success of these policies.
Today we hear the same skepticism in relation to raising fertility from very low levels.
In the not-too-distant future, I am confident we shall be able to look back on the success of policies designed to raise fertility.