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What can fertility indicators tell us about pronatalist policy options?

John Bongaarts

Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, 2008, vol. 6, issue 1, 39-55

Abstract: The identification and implementation of ways to avert the adverse future consequences of rapid population ageing represent urgent new public policy challenges. This paper synthesises the available knowledge on pronatalist policy options and assesses their potential impact by examining three fertility indicators: the total fertility rate, the tempo-adjusted total fertility rate and the personal ideal family size. Using recent data from thirteen European countries, the TFR is found to be lower than the ideal family size in each population. The two main reasons for this gap are tempo effects and economic, social and biological obstacles to the implementation of reproductive preferences. These factors together are estimated to average approximately 0.8 to 0.9 births per woman. Policy options to raise fertility without interfering with existing reproductive preferences are proposed. The concluding section briefly examines the impact of an increase in fertility on future trends in the old-age dependency ratio.

Date: 2008
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