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Introducing an analysis of fertility recuperation and its first empirical findings about Europeans’ fertility


  • Rubén Castro

    () (Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales)


The concept of fertility recuperation is based on the association between birth timing and completed fertility. Fertility recuperation focuses on the interplay between a defined benchmark, most commonly the age at first birth, and the fertility behaviors after the benchmark is reached. Within qualitative analysis of this association, however, whether recuperation took place is not clear nor is the mechanism of recuperation if it occurs. To determine if and how recuperation takes place, in this article I propose a quantitative framework. The cohort’s completed fertility is decomposed as a linear combination of the average age at first birth(A), average fertility per year between the first child and the maximum age for fertility (B), and proportion childless (C). The key point is that at the heart of fertility recuperation lies the idea of comparing cohorts in terms of the speed at which subsequent births occur after the first child, of which B is a quantitative summary measure. The association of A with C, on the other hand, is shown to better be explored separately because it is affected by different selection issues. An empirical application is conducted then. The analysis of survey data from West European countries reveals that recuperation is found not only among posttransitional cohorts (born after 1950), but also among pre-transitional cohorts (born between 1931- 1946). The pre-transitional cohort compensates lower A’s with lower B’s and the post-transitional cohort compensates higher A’s with higher B’s. Regarding the size of recuperation, the compensating changes on B across cohorts are substantially higher than that necessary to counteract the changes on A. Both selection issues and changes in the “completed fertility conditional on age at first child” explain this result. The compensation patterns are also visible in Eastern European countries, though the patterns for post-transitional cohorts are unclear, likely due to the economic changes in the early 90s.

Suggested Citation

  • Rubén Castro, 2011. "Introducing an analysis of fertility recuperation and its first empirical findings about Europeans’ fertility," Working Papers 21, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales.
  • Handle: RePEc:ptl:wpaper:21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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, June.
    2. Francesco C. Billari & Hans‐Peter Kohler & Gunnar Andersson & Hans Lundström, 2007. "Approaching the Limit: Long‐Term Trends in Late and Very Late Fertility," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(1), pages 149-170, March.
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