Fertility and Well-Being
At a Glance
Shifts in the Fertility–Development Nexus at the Macro and Micro Level
Jessica Nisén (MPIDR / University of Helsinki, Finland), Aiva Jasilioniene, Daniel Ciganda, Andres Castro, Mathias Lerch, Angelo Lorenti, Nicolas Todd, Mikko Myrskylä, Natalie Nitsche; in Collaboration with Gunnar Andersson, Ben Wilson (both: Stockholm University, Sweden), Francesco C. Billari (University of Oxford, United Kingdom / Bocconi University, Milan, Italy), Lars Dommermuth (Statistics Norway, Oslo, Norway), Diego R. Farinas (The Spanish National Research Council, Madrid, Spain), Jonathan Fox (Free University of Berlin, Germany), Sebastian Klüsener (Federal Institute for Population Research, Wiesbaden, Germany), Hans-Peter Kohler (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA), Michaela Kreyenfeld (Hertie School of Governance GmbH, Berlin, Germany), Hill Kulu (University of St Andrews, United Kingdom), Trude Lappegård (University of Oslo, Norway), Pekka Martikainen (University of Helsinki, Finland), Karel Neels, Jonas Wood (both: University of Antwerp, Belgium), Bernhard Riederer (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna Institute of Demography, Austria), Vladislava Stankuniene (Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania), Laurent Toulemon (French National Institute for Demographic Studies, Paris, France), Francisco Viciana (Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia, Sevilla, Spain), Ruben Van Gaelen (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Many important fertility theories of the 20th century hold that improvements in human development in modern societies are likely to lead to fertility decrease. However, new theoretical frameworks that have recently been proposed suggest that fertility might increase again at high levels of development, particularly among highly educated women. These encompass the Gender Revolution and Multiple Equilibria frameworks, among others. Parallel to these tendencies in the theoretical debate, there is growing empirical evidence that we are witnessing indeed substantial shifts in the macro- and micro-level links between human development and fertility in some highly developed parts of the world.
The MPIDR has made important contributions to this ongoing discussion in terms of both theoretical explanations and empirical analyses. At the macro level, our studies based on aggregate-level data suggest that we might be witnessing the emergence of a positive development-fertility relationship across countries as well as subnational regions within countries at high levels of development. At the micro level, too, there is growing evidence that the long-standing negative relationship between women’s socioeconomic position and childbearing is subject to considerable shifts. Our research on Europe has shown that this leads to the weakening of the relationship between human development and fertility at both the individual and the aggregate level. But to assess the likelihood of the emergence of a positive relationship between the two phenomena and the sustainability of such an outcome, we need to gain a deeper understanding of the micro-level dynamics and contextual factors that are driving these trends.
This project aims to address these issues by analyzing rich register and register-like data. At the individual level, we focus on trends by socioeconomic status among females, males, or couples; and we look at the effects of selective internal and international migration on fertility in highly and less developed areas. At the contextual level, the main emphasis will be on fertility trends by level of economic development, costs of living, and opportunities to reconcile family and career goals. Using micro-level simulation models, we also quantify the contributions of various types of behavioral change to the renewed increase in aggregate-level fertility.
As part of the project, we have set up a European network of researchers called Register-Based Fertility Research Network. It brings together scientists who are collaborating to exploit individual-level and subnational variance in register and register-like data in order to improve our understanding of the recent shifts in the fertility-–development nexus.
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