Social Feedback Mechanisms in the Postponement of Fertility in Spain

Daniel Ciganda, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Francisco Villavicencio, University of Southern Denmark and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This paper empirically tests the role of educational change, economic uncertainty and the social feedback mechanisms triggered by those changes in the postponement of first births in Spain. Using an agent-based model we proceed by steps. We begin by assessing the role of education, fixing the age and education-specific fertility rates of the cohorts born between 1940 and 1960 and allowing the composition of the population by education to change. In a second step we model the direct effect of economic uncertainty, allowing our agents to become unemployed according to observed probabilities. Finally, we introduce the effect of social interaction by allowing our agents to base their family formation decisions on the information available in their peer networks. The successive effects of educational change, unemployment and social interaction create a social feedback mechanism that reinforces and magnifies the trend triggered by the change in the material conditions of the agents.

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Presented in Session 47: Low Fertility