European demographic change and population policy preferences in 31 European countries

Mare Ainsaar, University of Tartu
Kadri Rootalu, University of Tartu

Population policy is influenced by the demographic situation, but it also shapes demographic structures itself. The poster presentation analyses main population processes and policy attitudes in 31 European countries in 2001 – 2013 from three main angles: the objective demographic situation; official views on the situation; and how European countries differ in their population policy reactions. For population policy attitudes analyses with 2001 - 2013 data from United Nations World Population Policies database were used. Results Data of population policy database demonstrate, that concern about the population situation and willingness to support population growth related policies had become stronger towards population growth in Europe. We found also clear evidence that attitudes towards population growth and population growth policies tend to concur with objective demographic situation. The most preferred field of population policy is fertility policy. Fertility policy attitudes have also the strongest correlations with objective demographic situation, perhaps because it is be also most understandable to electorate and politicians. We demonstrated also significant liberalization of European political attitudes towards immigration from 2001-2011, although the average attitude is neutral. The liberalisation of immigration attitudes stopped during economic recession. The case study of family policy also allows arguing that political rhetoric is not always tied to actual higher spending on families with children. Therefore the study of political attitudes remains important as part of policy process analyses, but the analyses produce complete picture of policy results.

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Presented in Poster Session 2