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The Relationship between Housing and Fertility: A macro-level, cross-country investigation

2nd March 2017 3pm, Southampton, Room 1083 (L/R C), Building 6 (Nuffield)

Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, McGill University

Over the past 75 years fertility levels have been dropping across the globe and have reached particularly low levels in most economically developed countries. These low levels are viewed as problematic both because women report wanting more children than they are having and because governments worry about the economic consequences of shrinking populations such as diminished work forces, and increased strain on social welfare systems. Theoretical frameworks have identified the housing market, specifically the availability and affordability of independent housing, as one factor that may be leading to these low levels of fertility because, for most young adults in economically developed countries, living away from their parents is a necessary precursor to having children. However, to date the empirical link between housing and fertility at the national level remains uninvestigated. In the first macro level empirical investigation of this relationship, this paper explores how multiple aspects of the housing market are related to multiple measures of fertility across 38 countries.