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Nearly all European nations are experiencing long-term downtrends in fertility, and consequently, ageing of their populations. These demographic trends could have potentially damaging consequences for European economies. Concern over these trends has sparked intense debate over the most effective policies to reverse them or mitigate their consequences. Three broad policy approaches have been considered: (1) encourage childbearing (marriage and cohabitation) among younger couples; (2) increase immigration of working-age people; and (3) reform social policy more generally, in order to ameliorate the negative consequences of these trends. The study intends to improve understanding of the interrelations between policy and demographic change. It examines the interrelations between European government policies and demographic trends and behaviour, and assesses which policies can prevent or mitigate the adverse consequences of current low fertility and population ageing. Therefore, a framework has been developed highlighting the interrelationships among government policies, macro-level conditions and household-level demographic behaviour, all of which combine to influence population factors. Guided by this framework, three research tasks were carried out: (1) the research literature was reviewed; (2) European demographic data were examined; and (3) case studies of five countries were conducted. The study has resulted in several conclusions and implications for European policymaking.

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The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Europe and RAND Labor and Population.

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