Economic Development, Women’s Education, and Their Fertility – a Study Across and Within European Countries

Jessica Nisén , University of Turku
Sebastian Klüsener, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)
Johan Dahlberg, Stockholm University
Lars Dommermuth , Statistics Norway
Aiva Jasilioniene, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Michaela Kreyenfeld , Hertie School of Governance
Trude Lappegård, Statistics Norway
Peng Li, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Pekka Martikainen, University of Helsinki
Karel Neels , University of Antwerp
Bernhard Riederer , Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/OAW, Univ. Vienna)
Saskia te Riele, Statistics Netherlands
Harun Sulak, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
Laura Szabó , Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Alessandra Trimarchi , University of Vienna
Francisco Viciana, Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia
Mikko Myrskylä, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Country-level contextual factors are proposed to affect the fertility behavior of women differently depending on their parity and educational level. Recent research documents variation in women’s educational gradient in fertility across sub-national regions within countries in Europe, suggesting potentially differential responses by women also depending on the regional context in which they have lived over their reproductive lives. This study aims at bridging between the national and sub-national layer to enhance understanding of the susceptibility of women’s childbearing to contextual conditions, particularly from the perspective of economic development. To assess this aim we harmonize register, census, and large-scale survey data from 15 European countries. We measure women’s education, region of living linked to GDP, and parity-specific cohort fertility at the end of the reproductive career. An empirical Bayesian method is used to reduce uncertainty of the regional fertility rate estimates. Our findings show that, childlessness is higher among women living in sub-national regions of higher GPD, especially among the highly educated women. Further, conditional on having entered motherhood, fertility of the women with higher education associates less negatively with economic conditions at the country and sub-national regional level. To conclude, although the potential effects of sub-national migration or compositional factors cannot be entirely ruled out, and our results on higher parities could be affected by the selection into motherhood, it is plausible that economically well-developed country and sub-national contexts may be less detrimental to the continued childbearing of the more highly educated women.

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 Presented in Session 55. Fertilty Dynamics in a Comparative Perspective