Fertility and public policies: trends and challenges
Department of Sociology ISCTE Lisbon, Portugal
Low fertility is one of the main determinants of population ageing, in the context of the deep-rooted demographic changes that have been taking place in recent decades in most countries across Europe and also other parts of the globe. The widespread and systematic decline of fertility rates, which has serious implication for the sustainability of social and welfare configurations, has acquired increasing centrality in social and political agendas and, conversely, a new visibility in public and social policies. This presentation seeks to (a) identify key aspects of demographic changes concerning fertility trends and their consequences, (b) map factors and fields that are usually identified as contributing to these changes and (c) focus on policy trends in order to discuss the options and implications of policy developments. Policies concerning fertility are discussed in the context of family policies and in the wider framework of social policy. The complexity of fertility issues and policies is underlined, namely to stress how they are deeply related to different social and policy fields. These, however plural, result in variable conditions for the decision-making processes of individuals and families. It is argued that this perspective provides an important focal point for policy design and assessment, as well as for a more general reflection on fertility trends.