Economic Uncertainty and Fertility: A Meta-Analysis

Giammarco Alderotti, Università di Roma - Sapienza
Michela Baccini, University of Florence
Daniele Vignoli, University of Florence

The relation between economic uncertainty and fertility has always been an important topic in demographic research, and the Great Recession, spanning 2007 to 2009, made it increasingly crucial over the last years. Although studied since ever, the interplay between economic uncertainty and fertility is far from being clearly understood: uncertainty is usually deemed to be a negative condition, but different fertility reactions are both advocated by sociological theories and supported by micro-level evidence, which is still fragmented and sometimes contradictory. Given this state of the art, we decided to perform a meta-analysis (i.e., a quantitative literature review) in order to synthesize all the evidence coming from the existing literature and to draw general conclusions about the size and the direction of the impact of economic uncertainty on fertility.

Articles were collected systematically, using an electronic database (Scopus) and applying inclusion criteria to decide which ones to include in our sample. In order to avoid ecological correlation fallacy, we considered only micro-level studies, limiting the search to Europe to make the analyses more comparable. So far, 120 articles were collected and 60 of them were correctly coded and included in the meta-sample.

Preliminary results are available and they show that significant differences exist between men and women, between transition to parenthood and to higher parities, and over time. Nevertheless, the hypothesis of homogeneity within groups was rejected by all the tests done. On this basis, we need to be careful when interpreting the preliminary results and we have to go deeper into the analysis, performing a meta-regression in order to study the heterogeneity, which is going to be the next step.

Presented in Session 103: Fertility in Times of Economic Uncertainty