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Abstract

Total fertility rates throughout the European Union have fallen and are now below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman. Maintaining a sustainable population size is crucial for the future of the EU, and this concerns both politicians and scholars. This paper will examine three countries to represent the broader EU and discern causal factors in this fertility crisis. Italy and Spain are two southern states experiencing sharp fertility decline, while Sweden is a northern nation with a more modest change. I argue that women’s economic stability and experience of gendered norms within the domestic sphere are the two key factors in shifting fertility outcomes. Women’s job security and family planning are often put at odds, complicating the decision to have multiple children. If fertility rates are to improve, countries must understand and address the socio-cultural norms and political institutions that empower or impede women’s combined employment and fertility.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

 

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