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Cross-national differences in the association between educational attainment and completed fertility. Do welfare regimes matter?

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  • Eva-Maria Merz
  • Aart C. Liefbroer

Abstract

The decline in fertility has been linked to changes in educational attainment, particularly among women. Most studies on this topic have, however, focused on the impact of education on fertility timing. In this study, we examine the association between education and completed fertility; specifically, whether the educational gradient differs between women and men and between younger and older birth cohorts. Importantly, we investigate whether the educational gradient varies across European welfare systems. In our analysis, we applied multilevel modelling to individual-level data on fertility quantum in 25 countries from the European Social Survey. Overall, women and older cohorts had higher completed fertility rates than men and younger cohorts. The total number of children born to each individual decreased with increasing educational levels. This negative gradient was stronger among women than among men, and was weaker among younger than among older cohorts in western Europe. At the macro level, we found the weakest negative educational gradients in the social-democratic countries and in the post-Soviet states. The negative gradient was strongest in the Mediterranean countries and in the postcommunist countries.

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  • Eva-Maria Merz & Aart C. Liefbroer, 2017. "Cross-national differences in the association between educational attainment and completed fertility. Do welfare regimes matter?," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 15(1), pages 095-120.
  • Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:15:y:2017:i:1:p:095-120
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