Social welfare policy as an instrument for fertility regulation

  • Arno de Jager Arno de Jager

In vast majority of countries fertility rates are either too high or too low, creating serious socio-economic problems. This study assesses for a large set of countries, the impact of social welfare policies on total fertility rates (TFRs). Studied are the general effect of social welfare policy and the disaggregated effects of education expenditure and social security, consisting of old-age benefits, sickness benefits, and unemployment benefits, on TFR. Social welfare spending, in general, negatively affects TFR, as do all four disaggregated policy areas. When specifically examining low fertility rate countries a significant positive effect is found between education expenditure and fertility, while other effects are insignificant. Focusing on countries with high fertility rates significant and strongly negative effects on TFR can be found when expenditure on education is increased, or when old-age benefits or sickness benefits are to be introduced or enhanced. Hence, this study concludes that, low fertility countries can boost fertility by investing in education, while high fertility countries can temper fertility by introducing or expanding old-age, and sickness benefits and investing in education.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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