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Has Divorce Become a Pro-Natal Force in Europe at the Turn of the 21st Century?


  • Jan Van Bavel


  • Mieke Jansen


  • Belinda Wijckmans



Since the 1990s, the correlation between divorce and total fertility has turned positive on the country level in Europe. This paper investigates whether this positive association also holds on the individual level. To this end, it uses micro-level data from the third round of the European Social Survey about 23 countries. We introduce location-scale models to analyze both the average number of children and the dispersion around this number. Particular attention goes to the role played by repartnering. We find that a past divorce experience is generally negatively associated with the number of children ever born for both men and women, even for people who are in a new post-divorce union. So, contrary to what is suggested by aggregate level correlations, divorce has not become a pro-natal force in Europe. The only exception may be remarried men, who are somewhat more likely to have three or more children in our sample. Whereas the difference in average number of children born between divorced and never divorced people is small, divorce is associated with much greater heterogeneity in childbearing. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Van Bavel & Mieke Jansen & Belinda Wijckmans, 2012. "Has Divorce Become a Pro-Natal Force in Europe at the Turn of the 21st Century?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(5), pages 751-775, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:poprpr:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:751-775
    DOI: 10.1007/s11113-012-9237-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eva Beaujouan & Anne Solaz, 2008. "Childbearing after separation," Working Papers 155, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
    2. Janet Griffith & Helen Koo & C. Suchindran, 1985. "Childbearing and family in remarriage," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 22(1), pages 73-88, February.
    3. Joshua R. Goldstein & Tomás Sobotka & Aiva Jasilioniene, 2009. "The End of "Lowest-Low" Fertility?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(4), pages 663-699.
    4. Elizabeth Thomson & Maria Winkler-Dworak & Martin Spielauer & Alexia Prskawetz, 2012. "Union Instability as an Engine of Fertility? A Microsimulation Model for France," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(1), pages 175-195, February.
    5. Silvia Meggiolaro & Fausta Ongaro, 2010. "The implications of marital instability for a woman’s fertility: Empirical evidence from Italy," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 23(34), pages 963-996, November.
    6. Lucia Coppola & Mariachiara Di Cesare, 2008. "How fertility and union stability interact in shaping new family patterns in Italy and Spain," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 18(4), pages 117-144, March.
    7. Susan Stewart, 2002. "The effect of stepchildren on childbearing intentions and births," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(1), pages 181-197, February.
    8. FFF1Elizabeth NNN1Thomson, 2004. "Step-families and Childbearing Desires in Europe," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(5), pages 117-134, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Éva Beaujouan, 2016. "Second Unions Now More Stable than First? A Comparison of Separation Risks by Union Order in France," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(2), pages 293-321, May.


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