Family Policies in Europe: Fertility Policies at the Intersection of Gender Policies, Employment Policies, and Care Policies

Gerda Neyer, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

In Europe, increasing concerns about the sustainability of welfare-state systems in the face of low fertility have revived debates about family policies as a remedy against fertility decline and its presumed consequences. Unfortunately, investigations of the effects of family policies on fertility have yielded ambiguous and often insignificant results. This paper argues that this is due to the nature of family policies, to the way in which they are intertwined with welfare-state systems, and to their impact on gender, employment, and care. As a consequence, similar family policies may exert different effects in different contexts, as illustrated by empirical examples. The examples also show that any assessment of family-policy effects on fertility needs to take into account the combined spectrum of gender relations, welfare-state structures, and labor-market development.

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Presented in Session 165: Families and the Dynamics of Child Care