Volume 39 - Article 19 | Pages 561–592

Family policies, childbearing, and economic crisis: The case of Iceland

By Ari Klængur Jónsson

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:20 Apr 2018
Date published:19 Sep 2018
Word count:7251
Keywords:economic crisis, fertility, gender equality, Iceland, parental leave, social policies, standardized birth rates


Background: In the early 2000s, Iceland implemented one of the most gender-equal parental leave systems in the world, and at the same time increased the volume of public childcare. A few years later, in 2008, Iceland experienced a major economic crises that, among other things, lead to cutbacks in governmental spending and decreased support to families with children.

Objective: The objective of this study is to provide insight into recent childbearing dynamics in Iceland and how they may be linked to recent social-policy reforms and the intervention of the economic crisis in 2008.

Methods: We use official individual longitudinal register data covering the total female population born in Iceland between 1953 and 1997. We analyse the data by means of event history techniques.

Results: We find that changes in the standardized birth rates coincide with the emergence of the reformed family-policy package: A declining trend in the age-standardized first-birth rate came to a halt, and the propensity to have a second and a third child increased. After the onset of the crisis, a trend of decreasing first-birth intensities reemerged and, in 2011, a turnaround to declining second- and third-birth rates.

Conclusions: The development in the post-2008 period indicates that even in the most gender-equal settings, the gender balance in family care is still vulnerable, and that family policies cannot compensate in full for the impact of economic crisis on fertility.

Contribution: The study highlights the interdependency of factors related to both social policy and the business cycle in relation to childbearing developments.

Author's Affiliation

Ari Klængur Jónsson - Háskóli Íslands (University of Iceland), Iceland [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Childbearing trends in Iceland, 1982–2013: Fertility timing, quantum, and gender preferences for children in a Nordic context
Volume 37 - Article 7

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Parental leave policies and continued childbearing in Iceland, Norway, and Sweden
Volume 40 - Article 51    | Keywords: fertility, gender equality, Iceland, parental leave

» Should governments in Europe be more aggressive in pushing for gender equality to raise fertility? The second "YES"
Volume 24 - Article 9    | Keywords: fertility, gender equality, parental leave

» Weak support for a U-shaped pattern between societal gender equality and fertility when comparing societies across time
Volume 40 - Article 2    | Keywords: fertility, gender equality

» Childbearing trends in Iceland, 1982–2013: Fertility timing, quantum, and gender preferences for children in a Nordic context
Volume 37 - Article 7    | Keywords: Iceland, standardized birth rates

» Domestic division of labour and fertility preference in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan
Volume 36 - Article 18    | Keywords: fertility, gender equality


»Volume 39





Similar Articles



Jump to Article

Volume Page
Volume Article ID