Preference Theory and Low Fertility: A Comparative Perspective
Francesco C. Billari
Maria Rita Testa
The discussion on the causes of the most recent fertility decline in Europe, and in particular on the emergence of lowest low fertility, emphasises the relevance of cultural factors in addition to economic ones. Being part of such a cultural framework, the heterogeneity of preferences concerning the “career vs. family” dichotomy has been systematised in the “Preference Theory” approach developed by Catherine Hakim. So far, however, this heterogeneity in preferences has been underinvestigated in a comparative framework. This paper makes use of new comparative data from the 2004/05 Round of the European Social Survey to test the links between individual-level preferences and both fertility outcomes and intentions in a variety of social settings. Results confirm a link between work-family lifestyle preferences and realised fertility in a variety of European countries, while they do not support the relevance of lifestyle preferences for fertility intentions.
Preference Theory, low and lowest low fertility, Europe, European Social Survey, welfare regime.
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