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ERC

CODEC Result In Brief

Project ID: 201194
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Demographic changes call for new policy approaches

EU-funded researchers have analysed the consequences of demographic change. The end goal was to generate knowledge and thus fortify policy analysis in demography – an essential move given new and emerging demographic patterns in developed countries.
Demographic changes call for new policy approaches
Recent demographic patterns and behaviours include an increase in divorce rates and out-of-wedlock childbearing, and delays in key related events such as leaving the parental home and the onset of parenthood. Some view these changes in a negative light, with concerns centred on bad child outcomes and economic disadvantage, among others, especially for women. However, the highest performing societies are in fact those that have progressed farthest in these new demographic behaviours.

The project CODEC (Consequences of demographic change) took a novel approach to analysing new issues in demography, framing research in terms of micro and macro perspectives. Through its focus on the consequences, this study differs in comparison to previous demographic studies, the majority of which focused on the determinants behind these trends.

The analysis was targeted at being able to make inferences about how certain demographic behaviours affect certain outcomes, including income, poverty and deprivation along with various child outcomes.

Study findings have many and varied implications. The research has highlighted differences in how certain countries deal with or are struggling to cope with emerging demographic patterns.

For example, Nordic countries have the highest divorce rates and out-of-wedlock childbearing is more common in any other country, but they perform highest on a multitude of indicators. The relationship between subjective well-being and childbearing was found to differ substantially across countries. Countries with inadequately developed childcare also have low fertility and low female labour force participation. Findings also corroborate a clear north-south divide: grandparents play a far more critical role in the south than in the north.

Another research thread investigated issues regarding the interaction between institutions and demographic change. Nordic countries rely heavily on the outsourcing of traditional family activities (e.g. care for children and the elderly), which has helped keep both fertility and female labour force participation rates high. Nordic countries have adjusted better to the new aspirations of women thanks to their institutions' flatter organisational structure and higher trust. Countries where institutions are more rigid and hierarchical find it more difficult to adapt to new preferences.

CODEC has advanced the understanding of how demographic events impact important processes in the course of individuals' lives. Overall, project work and results provide important information for policymakers and how they can best influence outcomes through appropriate interventions.

Related information

Keywords

Demographic patterns, demographic change, policy analysis, divorce, childbearing, CODEC, female labour force
Record Number: 183042 / Last updated on: 2016-07-19
Domain: Industrial Technologies