Economic Uncertainty and Fertility in Europe

Economic uncertainty may be interpreted as an individual risk factor, related to unfavorable labour market careers, but it may also be conceptualized as a macro-level phenomenon, reflecting the general uncertainty felt by people in times of economic turbulence

The relationship between economic conditions and family dynamics is now a major topic of public interest. Nevertheless, the economic uncertainty/fertility nexus is far from being clearly understood: theoretical premises are weak and empirical findings send conflicting messages

objective

To generate new knowledge on if, how, and under what circumstances economic uncertainty matters for fertility in contemporary Europe, adopting a cross-country comparative approach

Three pillars

Aim 0: to systematize the current empirical evidence on the impact of economic uncertainty on fertility. This objective will be met by performing a meta-analysis (a quantitative literature review) to assess the direction and the magnitude of the impact of economic uncertainty on fertility on the basis of existing European research findings

Aim 1: to assess how people make fertility plans under uncertain economic circumstances, recognizing their heterogeneity in perceiving and tolerating uncertainty. To this end, we will run controlled laboratory experimentation in selected, different settings in Europe

Aim 2: to establish the impact of economic uncertainty on fertility from the life course perspective, using various measures of uncertainty, and exploring the possibility of gender- and context- specific reactions to economic uncertainty. To reach this objective, we will perform micro-level longitudinal research using appropriate data and methods to attenuate, if not altogether eliminate, the bias due to selection and endogeneity

Impact

EU-FER will offer new theoretical and empirical insights about how economic uncertainty affects fertility derived from both observationally and experimentally based evidence

EU-FER will set the stage for a new development in family demography by demonstrating the potential of a laboratory experimentation study