The impact of family policy expenditure on fertility in Western Europe

This paper analyzes the impact on fertility of changes in national expenditure for family allowances, maternity and parental leave benefits, and childcare subsidies. To do so, I estimate a model for the timing of births using individual-level data from 16 WesternEuropean countries supplemented with data on national social expenditure for different family policy programs. These latter allow approximation of the subsidies that households with children receive from such programs. The results show that increased expenditure on family policy programs that facilitate women to combine family andemployment—and thus reduce the opportunity cost of children—generates positive fertility responses.

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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