Later Fertility and Birth Intervals: A Comparison of Progressions to a Second Child between France and Spain

Marie-Caroline Compans , University of Vienna (Wittgenstein Centre)
Eva Beaujouan , University of Vienna (Wittgenstein Centre)
Cristina Suero , Spanish National Research Council

Increasing age at birth and small family sizes are significant features of contemporary low-fertility settings. Parity progression ratios and birth intervals allow analyses of the quantum and tempo of fertility by parity. We focus on transitions to second births and compute these indicators by age at first birth. We compare two countries with different family and fertility regimes, France and Spain, relying on fertility surveys (Enquête Famille et Logement, 2011, and Encuesta de Fecundidad, 1985, 1999, 2018). The evolution across the birth cohorts 1935 to 1974 depicts different patterns. France shows high fertility levels that decline only slowly despite first births postponement and increasing intervals between first and second birth. On the contrary, Spain experienced a fertility decline while displaying a pattern of recuperation of postponed births since the 1950s birth cohorts. In these recent cohorts, however, the birth interval increased strongly among women becoming mothers before age 30. In both countries, second births occurred faster on average when the first birth was after than before age 30, and it has not changed much across cohorts. Data on men’s fertility by parity and age for France also provide information on the extent to which constraints at late ages are gendered. In particular, short intervals (< 3 years) between first and second births have declined among late first-time fathers (35+), while they remained constant across female cohorts. Overall, this analysis raises questions, for instance, regarding (wo)men’s preferences for spacing births, the number of children they desire, and their achieved fertility.

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 Presented in Session P1. Postercafe