Aspects of below-replacement fertility have long been debated among professional demographers. This paper describes the corresponding popular debate about low fertility by analyzing 437 newspaper and magazine articles from eleven developed countries during 1998 and 1999. Despite the diversity in the national debates due to different socioeconomic, political and demographic backgrounds, our study finds important commonalties in the way low fertility is debated: First, countries emphasize consequences and potential interventions rather than causes in their popular debates over low fertility. Second, our study reveals that the popular press discusses low fertility as a serious concern with mostly negative implications, despite the fact that many of the causes of low fertility are associated with social and economic progress. Third, the variety of issues and perspectives revealed in the popular debate, while cohesive in general ways, invites a role for demographers in informing an accurate public discussion of low fertility, which will help form the most appropriate policy outcomes.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 12, 2004
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