Social Policy

Fernández, Juan J., Gema García-Albacete, Antonio Jaime-Castillo and Jonas Radl. 2021. “Priming or Learning? The Influence of Pension Policy Information on Individual Preferences in Germany, Spain and the United States”. Unpublished manuscript. 

A promising approach to pension policy preferences focuses on the influence of policyrelated information. We advance this research program by examining the impact of information about future pension benefits, including whether information effects occur through priming or learning. Drawing on a novel, split-sample survey experiment in the US, Germany and Spain, we specifically examine the impact of information on predicted pension replacement rates for 2040 on pension policy attitudes. Findings indicate that the information treatment increases support for the two outcomes considered: (i) increases in the pensionable age and (ii) greater spending on pensions relative to other social programs. Additional analyses accounting for prior beliefs of participants show that information effects occur due either to learning or, more commonly, priming. The study concludes that hard, non-partisan information increases support for reforms that foster the financial sustainability of pension systems and that the precise impact of information depends on contextual conditions.

Radl, Jonas and Juan J. Fernández. 2021. “Pension Policy Literacy and Retirement Expectations: A Cross-Country Survey Experiment”. Unpublished manuscript.

Objectives: This study reports findings of the first cross-national survey experiment on the effects of information on the expected retirement age. Given the drawbacks of unrealistic retirement expectations, the study specifically considers the impacts of nonpartisan information about future demographic aging and forecasted pension benefit levels. 

Methods: An online survey experiment was conducted in the US, Germany and Spain in 2018 using an internet access panel. We assigned respondents to two random treatments: one citing the change in the projected share of the population older than 65 years (demographic treatment) and another citing the projected change in pension replacement rates (benefits treatment), both for 2015 to 2040. Treatment effects on the expected retirement age are reported.

Results: The benefits treatment has a strong influence on retirement expectations. In the US, respondents informed of the expected decline in pension replacement rates expect to retire two years later than respondents not informed of the decline. In Spain, this treatment leads to an approximately 9-month postponement of expected retirement, while no significant effect is found in Germany. In addition, the demographic treatment does not affect retirement expectations in the countries studied. Respondents in all countries informed of future population aging do not show different expected retirement ages than respondents not given this information.

Discussion: People’s retirement expectations are sensitive to information on future changes in pension generosity but not to information on population aging. The results suggest that information campaigns focused on declining pension replacement rates would help extend working lives.

Gonzales, Sara and Juan J. Fernández. 2021. “Socio-Economic Gaps in Workers’ Participation in Funded Pension Programs in Six European Countries”. Unpublished manuscript. 

Political Behaviour

Fernández, Juan J., Antonio Jaime-Castillo, Mike Hout and Katharina Müllholf. 2021. “The Mechanisms of Class Voting”. Unpublished Manuscript. 

Caihuelas, Berta, Juan J. Fernández and Antonio Jaime-Castillo. 2021. “Revisitng Class Voting”. Unpublished Manuscript.  

Gender & Politics

Fernández, Juan J. and Rose Mertes. 2021. “Partisanship, Motherhood and Abortion Attitudes: A Two-way Fixed Effects Strategy”. Unpublished Manuscript. 

Given the persistent controversy around abortion, recent scholarship examines the determinants of attitudes towards this medical practice. Yet most of these works either rely on random effects models or underexplore the fact that the abortion debate is deeply gendered. We advance the literature by considering heterogeneous effects across gender and by using fixed effects models designed to prevent parameter estimates being clouded by unobserved time-constant individual characteristics. Substantively, we focus on the role of partisanship and parenthood. Considering that GOP platforms give more salience to the abortion issue than their Democratic counterparts and since men are more interested and informed about politics than women, we argue that adopting a Republican self-identification shapes abortion attitudes more strongly among men than women. Moreover, as motherhood produces  a larger increase in time devoted to housework and childcare than fatherhood, women are more likely than fathers to revise their social values to be more consistent with pro-life stances. Results obtained from two-way fixed effects model using a treble, three-wave panel of the General Social Survey support these two hypotheses. Self-identifying as a Republican reduces abortion tolerance only among men. In addition, having a second child reduces abortion tolerance only among women.

Fernández, Juan J. and Celia Valiente. 2021. “Gender Balance in the Workforce and Abortion Attitudes: A Cross-national Time-series Analysis”. Unpublished Manuscript.

This article explores the relationship between gender balance in the workforce and attitudes towards abortion. Studies on macro-level conditions related to abortion attitudes overlook the role of gender balance in the workforce – specifically the degree of female representation in the national workforce. Yet there are strong reasons why this factor could shape abortion attitudes. This article argues that a gender-balanced workforce amplifies the number of women with self-interest in reproductive control (individual level), improves women’s bargaining position (interactional level) and enhances the political resources for women to pursue their collective self-interests (macro level). Combined, these interlocked processes create necessary conditions to break with traditional anti-abortion ideology and facilitate dissemination of pro-choice views. We test this argument with two different datasets – the Integrated Values Survey and three waves of the International Social Survey Programme – and two outcomes: general tolerance towards abortion and tolerance towards abortion when the pregnant woman has low income. Using three-level random intercept models and multiple controls for individual and country-level conditions, the results support our hypothesis: in countries with higher workforce gender balance, individuals display higher tolerance towards abortion.

Fernández Juan J. and Dácil Juif. 2021. “Does Abortion Liberalization Accelerate Fertility Decline? A Worldwide Time-series Analysis”. Unpublished manuscript. 

 Fertility decline and abortion liberalizations are two of the most important global trends in family planning since the end of WWII. Previous work examining the causal link between these two processes concurs that abortion liberalization accelerates fertility decline. Yet there are reasons to believe that these reforms have an average demographic null effect. Abortion decriminalizations may only be consequential if accompanied by improvements in abortion access, if women are aware of the reform and if other methods of birth control are not already widely used. We contribute the first truly global analysis of the impact of these legal reforms on fertility changes in 195 independent states between 1970 and 2015. Using two-way fixed models and three different indicators of abortion policy liberalism built by different research teams, we find no robust, significant association between abortion liberalizations and fertility changes. Our result has noticeable policy-making implications for both high- and low-fertility countries.

European Integration


Fernández Juan J., Jordi Domènech and Rickard Sandell. 2021. “The Scarring Effect of Imprisonment at Nazi Concentration Camps: The Case of Spaniards Librated from Mauthausen Camp”. Unpublished Manuscript.