Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Graduate School

Department

Public Policy and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Eugenia Toma

Abstract

This dissertation explores the relationship between intergenerational dynamics and politics outcomes in several distinct contexts. It is motivated by the remarkable demographic shifts exhibited by people in advanced countries over the past several decades. Individuals on average have longer lives and fewer children than ever before. Combining these shifts with the large intergenerational public policies that exist in many such states (education, old-age social welfare, healthcare) provokes several distinct yet related research questions addressed in the chapters below. First, do political traits matter for fertility behavior? If so, could the presence of differential fertility behavior across political groups lead to a shift in the position of the future median voter? Second, what are other significant determinants of fertility in contemporary Europe and the United States? Does more recent data support the findings of established “determinants of fertility” models? Finally, does the relationship between age and Social Security benefit preferences (and confidence in the Social Security system) seem to suggest the potential for intergenerational conflict over Social Security? The chapters below tie together disparate bodies of literature from multiple academic disciplines and use empirical evidence to answer these research questions. The results suggest political traits are significant determinants of fertility in some cases. The results also demonstrate that the relationship between wealth/education and fertility in many European states is positive – in contrast to much of the literature on this relationship and the common wisdom. Finally, the last empirical chapter illustrates the existence of potential age-based political conflict over Social Security in the United States.

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