More Work, Fewer Babies: What Does Workism Have to Do with Falling Fertility?

New Report by the Institute for Family Studies

Charlottesville, Virginia, March 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Date: March 18, 2021

(Charlottesville, VA)—The importance people ascribe to work and family matters for fertility, according to a groundbreaking report released today by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS). The report, More Work, Fewer Babies: What Does Workism Have to Do With Falling Fertility? is authored by IFS senior fellow Laurie DeRose, associate professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America, and IFS research fellow Lyman Stone, an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. 

Using four different datasets, DeRose and Stone explore the relationship between work, family, gender role attitudes, and fertility in countries across the globe and find that high-income countries that become more "workist" experience large associated declines in fertility. More specifically, they show that: 

  • Highly work-focused values and social attitudes among both men and women are strongly associated with lower birth rates in wealthy countries.
  • The decline in birth rates over the last decade across many high-income countries—including some Nordic countries—can be partly explained by the rising importance individuals assign to work as a source of value and meaning in life.
  • Government policies that try to increase fertility by providing more benefits aimed at workers, such as universal child care or parental leave programs, may undermine their efforts as they strengthen a “workist” life-script rather than a “familist” one.

Read the full report here. For an interview with Laurie DeRose or Lyman Stone, please contact Michael Toscano.


Where Work Became More Important, Fertility Fell Most

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