Volume 29 - Article 37 | Pages 963–998

Family policies in the context of low fertility and social structure

By Thomas Fent, Belinda Aparicio Diaz, Alexia Prskawetz

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:22 Nov 2011
Date published:13 Nov 2013
Word count:9774
Keywords:agent-based computational demography, family policy, low fertility, social effects, social networks, social structures
Additional files:Animated Lexis diagram (mp4 file, 138 kB)


Objective: In this paper we investigate the effectiveness of family policies in the context of the social structure of a population.

Methods: We use an agent-based model to analyse the impact of policies on individual fertility decisions and on fertility at the aggregate level. The crucial features of our model are the interactions between family policies and social structure, the agents’ heterogeneity, and the structure and influence of the social network. This modelling framework allows us to disentangle the direct effect (the alleviation of resource constraints) from the indirect effect (the diffusion of fertility intentions via social ties) of family policies.

Results: Our results indicate that family policies have a positive and significant impact on fertility. In addition, the specific characteristics of the social network and social effects do not only relate to fertility, but also influence the effectiveness of family policies.

Conclusions: Family policies can only be successful if they are designed to take into account the characteristics of the society in which they are implemented.

Author's Affiliation

Thomas Fent - Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Austria [Email]
Belinda Aparicio Diaz - Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Austria [Email]
Alexia Prskawetz - Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna), Austria [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» How many old people have ever lived?
Volume 36 - Article 54

» Changes in economic activity: The role of age and education
Volume 36 - Article 40

» Economic support ratios and the demographic dividend in Europe
Volume 30 - Article 34

» The reproductive value as part of the shadow price of population
Volume 24 - Article 28

» Does fertility decrease household consumption?: An analysis of poverty dynamics and fertility in Indonesia
Volume 20 - Article 26

» Austria: Persistent low fertility since the mid-1980s
Volume 19 - Article 12

» The "Wedding-Ring": An agent-based marriage model based on social interaction
Volume 17 - Article 3

» Decomposing the change in labour force indicators over time
Volume 13 - Article 7

» Pathways to stepfamily formation in Europe: Results from the FFS
Volume 8 - Article 5

» Fertility in second unions in Austria: Findings from the Austrian FFS
Volume 3 - Article 2

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» The influence of a supportive environment for families on women’s fertility intentions and behavior in South Korea
Volume 36 - Article 7    | Keywords: family policy, low fertility

» Should governments in Europe be more aggressive in pushing for gender equality to raise fertility? The second "NO"
Volume 24 - Article 10    | Keywords: family policy, low fertility

» When partners’ disagreement prevents childbearing: A couple-level analysis in Australia
Volume 44 - Article 33    | Keywords: low fertility

» Disentangling the complexity of family policies: SPIN data with an application to Lithuania and Sweden, 1995–2015
Volume 43 - Article 42    | Keywords: family policy

» Entrance into parenthood at the onset of low fertility in Ukraine: The role of family relationships and perceived security
Volume 42 - Article 29    | Keywords: low fertility