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The effect of education on women's propensity to be childless in Spain: Does the field of education matter?


  • Teresa Martín-García


This article investigates the relationship between educational attainment, in terms of both level and field of education, and the probability of being childless in Spain. Findings demonstrate that there is a significant difference in childlessness by education level among women aged 34-50, while this significance disappears when the analysis is not confined to older women but includes all women (aged 18-50) and is controlled for heterogeneity. In this latter case, childlessness has more to do with later childbearing among young women than with the accumulation of human capital. However, women educated in those studies concerned with the care of individuals and/or emphasizing interpersonal skills have a lower probability of being childless than women in other fields of study, irrespective of their education level, in both samples. In addition, the results show that childlessness, departure from education and union formation are jointly determined. Young women who want to be childfree or end up being childless stay in school for a longer period of time and postpone their union formation, whilst those with strong family/fertility intentions accelerate the three processes. I use data from the Spanish Family and Fertility Survey (1995) and apply event history models that take into account unobserved heterogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • Teresa Martín-García, 2009. "The effect of education on women's propensity to be childless in Spain: Does the field of education matter?," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 114, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:114

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Luis Rosero-Bixby & Teresa Castro-Martín & Teresa Martín-García, 2009. "Is Latin America starting to retreat from early and universal childbearing?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(9), pages 169-194, February.
    2. Hans‐Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest‐Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680, December.
    3. Pau Baizán Munoz & Arnstein Aassve & Francesco C. Billari, 2001. "Cohabitation, marriage, first birth: the interrelationship of family formation events in Spain," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-036, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    4. Lillard, Lee A., 1993. "Simultaneous equations for hazards : Marriage duration and fertility timing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1-2), pages 189-217, March.
    5. Siv Gustafsson, 2001. "Optimal age at motherhood. Theoretical and empirical considerations on postponement of maternity in Europe," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 14(2), pages 225-247.
    6. Dylan Kneale & Heather Joshi, 2008. "Postponement and childlessness - Evidence from two British cohorts," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(58), pages 1935-1968, November.
    7. Lucia Coppola, 2003. "Education and union formation as simultaneous processes in Italy and Spain," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-026, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    8. Esping-Andersen Gosta (ed.), 2007. "Family Formation and Family Dilemmas in Contemporary Europe," Books, Fundacion BBVA / BBVA Foundation, number 201178.
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    More about this item


    childlessness; education; field of study; Spain;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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