Explaining Attitudes Towards Demographic Behaviour

Arnstein Aassve, Università Bocconi
Vittorio Bassi, University College London
Maria Sironi, University of Pennsylvania

Economic and demographic developments are closely related. Although there is variation across countries, it is clear that the first demographic transition – characterized by fertility and mortality declines, was accompanied by dramatic economic and structural progress. Following the first demographic transition, new and more sophisticated demographic behaviour emerged, which, in the demography literature, is termed the Second Demographic Transition. A precondition for these new types of behaviours to take place is that individuals’ attitudes towards demographic behaviour also change. Whereas the demography literature makes a clear distinction between the First and Second Demographic transitions, evolutionary biologists argue that today’s modern attitudes and value orientations follow a diachronic path predominantly driven by economic development. Our paper provides a critical review of these explanations. Using unique individual level data from the European Social Survey, we develop a Modern Family Attitude (MFA) index and compare 25 countries.

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Presented in Session 133: Globalization and Family Changes