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Recession, Local Fertility, and Urban Sustainability: Results of a Quasi-Experiment in Greece, 1991–2018

Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir, Gianluca Egidi, Rosanna Salvia, Luca Salvati, Adele Sateriano and Antonio Gimenez-Morera
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Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir: Department of Overland Communication Ways, Foundation and Cadastral Survey, Politehnica University of Timisoara, 300224 Timisoara, Romania
Gianluca Egidi: Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), Tuscia University, Via San Camillo de Lellis, I-01100 Viterbo, Italy
Rosanna Salvia: Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics Department, University of Basilicata, Viale dell’Ateneo Lucano, I-85100 Potenza, Italy
Luca Salvati: Department of Economics and Law, University of Macerata, Via Armaroli 43, I-62100 Macerata, Italy
Adele Sateriano: Independent Researcher, PhD at Pontificia Universitas Lateranensis, I-00136 Rome, Italy
Antonio Gimenez-Morera: Departamento de Economia y Ciencias Sociales, Universitat Politècnica de València, Cami de Vera S/N, ES-46022 València, Spain

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 3, 1-18

Abstract: Fertility is a spatially non-stationary property of regional demographic systems. Despite the wealth of quantitative (micro–macro) information delineating short-term population dynamics in advanced economies, the contribution of economic downturns to local fertility has still been under-investigated along urban–rural gradients, especially in low-fertility contexts. Recent studies have assumed suburban fertility rates as systematically higher than urban and rural fertility rates. This assumption (hereafter known as the “suburban fertility hypothesis”) has been grounded on stylized facts and spatial regularities in advanced economies that reflect a significant role of both macro (contextual) and micro (behavioral) factors that positively influence fertility in suburban locations. To test the suburban fertility hypothesis at the macro-scale, the present study compares gross fertility rates from seven regional units of the Athens metropolitan area between 1991 and 2018. A refined spatial analysis of gross fertility rates during an economic expansion (1999–2008) and recession (2009–2018) was carried out in 115 urban, suburban, and rural municipalities of the same area. Experiencing sequential waves of economic expansion and recession, Athens’ socio-demographic dynamics were considered a sort of “quasi-experiment” for Southern Europe, linking late suburbanization with the multiple impacts of (rapid) economic downturns. Compared with both urban and rural locations, a higher fertility rate in suburban municipalities (15–20 km away from downtown Athens) was observed during the study period. However, a subtle distinction was observed during the economic expansion versus the recession. In the first period, the highest birth rates were recorded in industrial locations west of Athens, hosting economically disadvantaged communities with a relatively young population structure. With the recession, the highest fertility was associated with residential and service-specialized (wealthier) locations east of Athens, attracting resident population from neighboring areas, and better responding to crisis. The results of our study document how recent urban expansion and economic downturns have intrinsically shaped fertility dynamics, with implications for urban sustainability and social cohesion of metropolitan regions.

Keywords: economic downturns; demographic dynamics; suburban fertility hypothesis; Southern Europe (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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