The Gap Between Lifetime Fertility Intentions and Completed Fertility in Europe and the United States: A Cohort Approach

Beaujouan, Eva ORCID: and Berghammer, Caroline (2019) The Gap Between Lifetime Fertility Intentions and Completed Fertility in Europe and the United States: A Cohort Approach. Population Research and Policy Review, 38 (4). pp. 507-535. ISSN 0167-5923

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We study the aggregate gap between intended and actual fertility in 19 European countries and the US based on a cohort approach. This complements prior research that had mainly used a period approach. We compare the mean intended number of children among young women aged 20 to 24 (born in the early 1970s), meas ured during the 1990s in the Fertility and Family Surveys, with data on completed fertility in the same cohorts around age 40. In a similar manner, we compare the share who state that they do not want a child with actual cohort childlessness. Our exploration is informed by the cognitive-social model of fertility intentions devel- oped by Bachrach and Morgan (Popul Dev Rev 39(3):459-485, 2013). In all coun- tries, women eventually had, on average, fewer children than the earlier expectations in their birth cohort, and more often than intended, they remained childless. The results reveal distinct regional patterns, which are most apparent for childlessness. The gap between intended and actual childlessness is widest in the Southern Euro- pean and the German-speaking countries and smallest in the Central and Eastern European countries. Additionally, we analyze the aggregate intentions-fertility gap among women with different levels of education. The gap is largest among highly educated women in most countries studied and the educational gradient varies by region, most distinctively for childlessness. Differences between countries suggest that contextual factors-norms about parenthood, work-family policies, unemployment-shape women's fertility goals, total family size, and the gap between them.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Open access funding provided by Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). This research was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement no. 284238 (EURREP). Language editing was funded by the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Vienna.
Keywords: Childlessness, Education, Europe, Family size, Fertility intentions, United States
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Sozialpolitik > Demographie > Wittgenstein Centre
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2019 15:41
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2020 13:17
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