Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology


Christy Glass


Known as neoliberalism, an economic philosophy has spread throughout the world and may be contributing to total fertility rates that have fallen well below replacement value. I present two neoliberal mechanisms and how they may have driven total fertility rates around the world well below replacement levels and inhibited growth. These include increased social risks in the labor market as well as in the household. I then build a theoretical framework based on the social embeddedness of markets as conceived by Karl Polanyi and the concept of social risk as suggested by Richard Breen, suggesting that the unique combinations of speed and degree of adaptation can be broken into four ideal types. For each combination I indicate a unique hypothesis that indicates expected fertility patterns to emerge. Using the above mechanisms and framework, I use four historical case studies (Sweden, Germany, France and the UK) to represent each of the ideal models and test the validity of my theoretical framework and assertions. Finally, I draw conclusions regarding the impact of neoliberalism on fertility from these case studies and present future implications of these findings as well as proposed future research.




This work made publicly available electronically on January 19, 2011.