Trust and Fertility

Arnstein Aassve, Università Bocconi
Lea Pessin, Università Bocconi

We argue and show that the different fertility trends in advanced societies are in part driven by differences in trust. The argument builds around the ideas that 1) trust is associated with a benign assessment of society and with economic development and 2) trust implies that individuals and couples are willing to outsource traditional family activities to other individuals outside their own family. Trust is therefore seen as a catalyser for the process of increased female labour force participation, the diffusion of childcare facilities, and hence a halt to the continuing fertility decline. Support of this hypothesis is drawn from the World Value Survey, both from country-level fixed effect estimation and from a series of multi-level analyses. We find that trust by itself is positively associated with fertility during the recent decades. Moreover, trust has an important effect, interacting with women’s education.

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Presented in Session 142: Comparative Perspectives on Fertility and Sexual Behavior