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Does Postponement Explain the Trend to Later Childbearing in France?

  • Máire Ní Bhrolcháin
  • Laurent Toulemon
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    Fertility rates in most developed societies have been declining at younger ages and rising at older ages. This phenomenon is widely referred to as reflecting the postponement of fertility. But is this an accurate description? The present paper considers whether recent changes in the age-pattern of childbearing in France can be described as postponement. The statistical features of time series of rates are distinguished from the underlying behavioural process generating them. Criteria for the presence of postponement are proposed. In the absence of detailed, longitudinal information on intentions, the occurrence or otherwise of postponement is assessed by indirect means. Some evidence is found consistent with fertility postponement in recent decades. However, it cannot be interpreted causally, and so cannot be used either to explain recent trends or to anticipate future trends. Much more detailed evidence is required to establish the existence of postponement in the behavioural sense than is generally assumed.

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    File URL: http://epub.oeaw.ac.at/0xc1aa500d_0x00104031
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    Article provided by Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna in its journal Vienna Yearbook of Population Research.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 83-107

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    Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:3:y:2005:i:1:p:83-107
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/

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    1. John Bongaarts, 2002. "The End of the Fertility Transition in the Developed World," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(3), pages 419-443.
    2. Ron Lesthaeghe & Paul Willems, 1999. "Is Low Fertility a Temporary Phenomenon in the European Union?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(2), pages 211-228.
    3. Evert van Imhoff, 2001. "On the impossibility of inferring cohort fertility measures from period fertility measures," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 5(2), pages 23-64, September.
    4. Tomas Frejka & Gérard Calot, 2001. "Cohort Reproductive Patterns in Low-Fertility Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 103-132.
    5. Laurent Toulemon & Magali Mazuy, 2001. "Les naissances sont retardées mais la fécondité est stable," Population (french edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 56(4), pages 611-644.
    6. Tomás Sobotka, 2004. "Is Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe Explained by the Postponement of Childbearing?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 195-220.
    7. Gunnar Andersson, 2002. "Fertility developments in Norway and Sweden since the early 1960s," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 6(4), pages 67-86, February.
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