Are Family Values Multidimensional? Evidence from the Last Three Decades in Europe

Zuzanna Brzozowska , Masaryk University and Vienna University of Economics and Business

Although family values and their changes lie at the heart of family research, their operationalisation has drawn rather scant attention of family demographers. The existing but scattered evidence suggests family values consist of several dimensions changing at various pace. Yet, most analyses have ignored it. The weak empirical fit of the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) concept, the to-go framework in family demography, might be improved when accounting for the multidimensionality of family values. This paper aims to test the following hypothesis: family values comprise separate dimensions, and so reducing them to one single dimension leads to biased predictions of family change. It answers two research questions: Q1: How coherent are family values? Q2: How biased is the prediction of family changes when using one single family-value index as compared to separate indices for each dimension? I address Q1 by performing factor analysis on a battery of attitudinal SDT-related questions taken from four EVS waves (1990, 1999, 2008 and 2017). This generates factor-analysis based indices of family values. To answer Q2, I apply OLS country-level regression models and compare the performance of two kinds of family-value indices as predictors of family changes: the one-dimensional (used in previous literature) and the multi-dimensional (as computed within Q1) ones. The family-change indicators come from Eurostat, OECD and Human Fertility Database. First results suggest that family values are incoherent and comprise several dimensions. Accounting for this multi-dimensionality seems to substantially improve the predictive power of family value indices as predictors of family changes.

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 Presented in Session 104. Family Values and Behaviour