Europe and Israel: Understanding the Puzzle of Low vs. High Fertility in Developed Countries

Karra Greenberg, University of California, Los Angeles

Declining markedly in the 1960s, total fertility rates (TFRs) in the developed world currently average 1.6 in Europe and 2.1 in the United States. TFRs below population replacement level (roughly 2.1) have negative indications for national wellbeing, making it imperative to understand the influences of higher fertility in the developed world: Remarkably, Israel has maintained a TFR near 3.0 for the last two decades yet has hardly been included in comparative research. Using completed fertility cohorts (1941-1961) from the Social Networks Module 2001 of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), separate and pooled country analyses utilize negative binomial regressions to test the effects of established fertility indicators—religion, religiosity, network strength, and political affiliation—across Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Differences across study countries in the significance, direction, and size of these indicators of total number of children are informative.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Fertility Intentions and Behaviors