Quality of life in Europe
Eurobarometer survey, acceding and candidate countries, 2002
Fertility and family issues in an enlarged Europe
- Strong cultural shift away from large to small families and having children later in life.
- Low fertility rates found in all countries, except Turkey
- Lack of divide between the EU 15 and ACC 13 in this domain.
- ACC citizens identified unemployment measures rather than family policy provisions as the most important way for government to promote family life.
- Family-friendly measures could combine sufficient income support, protection of mothers against career discrimination, measures to re-integrate parents into the labour market and better support for lone parents.
- Intervention to improve childcare facilities can help reconcile employment and family tasks and improve work–life balance
- There is a need to strengthen measures aimed at supporting the one third of women who under-attain their family size ideal.
Low fertility and the accompanying cultural values such as reduced family size, older first-time mothers, increasing female participation in the workforce, are now universal throughout the 28 countries (except Turkey). The long-term impact of this is an ageing population and a lower population growth for Europe vis-à-vis other major regions such as the US, where fertility is now 40% higher than Europe. Differences in fertility patterns do not, however, follow an east–west divide. The AC 10 have a slightly lower fertility rate than the EU and Turkey is the only country surveyed reporting fertility above replacement level.
The higher proportion of women remaining childless, the increased average age of women having their first child and the growing propensity of women to remain single all impact on lower fertility rates. Among women with completed fertility (aged 40-64), actual family size falls slightly short of ideal size according to women in all countries, except Turkey. While about 60% of all women with completed fertility reported having attained their ideal family size, about 30% under-attained (mostly better educated women) and about 11% exceeded their ideal family size. Under-attainment is reported to be mainly caused by economic reasons, the cost of children and accommodation factors as well as health and relationship issues.
Related conference papers
- May 2005: Demographic changes in Europe: Implications for family policy (PDF, 122KB)
- December 2004: No future without children: demographic developments in Europe (PDF, 44KB)
- May 2004: Family life in Europe (PDF, 47KB)
- Read the synthesis report: Perceptions of living conditions in an enlarged Europe (résumé also available)
- See also the descriptive report of basic findings from the first European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS)