Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Does family policy affect fertility?

Well according to Anders Björklund, of Stockholm University, and based on the Swedish experience, it does. The linked paper is in fact his presidential address to the European Society for Population Economics meeting in Athens in 2001. Björklund's arguments are interesting, especially for those who have been following the discussion we have been having on DM about the birth postponement phenomenon: in fact much of the fluctuation in registered tfrs seen in Sweden can be related to this postponement process (average age at first birth in Sweden is now around the 29 mark), and the conclusion he comes to is a surprising one, that pro-natalist policy has been particularly effective in Sweden (even when compared with other Scandinavian countries) because the package has inadvertently (that is it was not the original explicit objective) incorporated a 'speed bonus' which encouraged families to move rapidly from the first child to second and subsequent ones and this has had an impact on fertility.
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CFR and TFR in Sweden

This post is related to both the one which comes before it and the one which follows. CFR refers to cohort fertility rate and TFR to total fertility rate.

The fertility can be measured in a number of ways, and two of the most important of these are the total fertility rate and the cohort fertility rate. The total fertility rate (TFR) is an estimate of periodic fertility and is defined as the sum of number of children born by women in a defined age range (16-49) extrapolated to the lifetime fertility of the total number of women in that age group. The cohort fertility rate (CFR) is the average number of children which women actually give birth to during their lifetime fertility cycle, and is only known when the women in the cohort end their fertile life. CFR is an accurate and important indicator since it measures whether the completed fertility for women achieves replacement level or not. The replacement level is the number of children per woman (approximately 2.1) needed in order to hold the population constant.
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Sweden, Pro-Natalism, Baby Booms and Demographic Transitions, Continued

This is a continuation of my last post, since looking again at what I said, and examining the Swedish experience a bit more closely, I think I may have overdone things a little. This point was made clear to me by a comment from Stefan Geens who drew attention to the rather complicated picture which the Swedish case offers us. The core of the problem is to be found in this statement from Mark Ammerman:

"Despite all the effort Sweden has never since then risen over or even near replacement fertility."
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Sweden, Pro-Natalism, Baby Booms and Demographic Transitions

A commentor on my Bonobo Land blog has been poking around the fertility issue and coming up with some interesting points. Now I'm sure Mark Ammerman is far from being in 100% agreement with what I am saying in general about fertility, but he is making what seems to me to be a genuine attempt to sort out for himself what it is that actually lies behind the phenomenon of low fertility.

Now if we start with a point made in a link Stefan Geens put up (as also mentioned by Claus yesterday):

The current baby boom-bust cycle implies severe welfare losses for the baby boom generations, even under optimal policy.
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Sweden, and Migrants From Romania and Bulgaria

The change of government in Sweden seems to mark something of a change in the attitude towards economic migration. The new governemnt of Fredrik Reinfeldt seems to be happy to accept an inflow of workers from Romania and Bulgaria when they join the EU in January:

"The Swedish government is unlikely to introduce restrictions on Bulgarian or Romanian workers," a press secretary for Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Roberta Alenius, told AFP, confirming comments made earlier by Reinfeldt.
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Young And Over-Educated In Sweden?

Well its been a quiet week over here at DM, and today is a grey drizzly day in Barcelona, so lets try and liven things up a bit with a (somewhat) controversial post.

It is curious to watch how some ideas which are rather badly thought out sometimes gain an acceptance and a status which they hardly merit. A classic case in my book is the Goldman Sachs idea of BRICs (this is ill-thought-out since Russia is very different from the other three, and it would be more coherent to have BTICs, substituting Turkey for Russia. We could then develop the parallel concept of the IRs - energy-rich non-democracies with serious problems: Russia and Iran). But another case in point (and it is the relevant one for this post) emanates from a McKinsey report which came out in the summer which was entitled Sweden's Growth Paradox.
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