Housing and Fertility: A Macro-Level, Multi-Country Investigation, 1982–2016

Sarah R. Brauner-Otto , McGill University

Low fertility is a growing demographic reality affecting most economically developed countries and can have serious economic consequences such as labor market shortages. There is widespread agreement that country-level institutional differences are the main factors behind the fertility differences among low fertility countries. This paper examines the relationship between housing, arguably the least studied of the key social institutions, and fertility across 36 low-fertility countries. Using newly compiled indicators of multiple dimensions of the housing context we explore housing from the perspective of renters, home buyers, and lenders. We operationalize fertility in terms of both the quantum (period TFR) and tempo (period mean age at first birth). Analyses paint a complicated picture showing variation by quantum and tempo of fertility, across geographic regions (Eastern vs non-Eastern European countries), and reveal a weakening relationship between the housing context and fertility at the country level over time.

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 Presented in Session 113. Low Fertility and Childlessness