MPIDR Working Paper

Patterns of lowest-low fertility in Europe

Billari, F. C., Kohler, H.-P.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2002-040, 32 Seiten (September 2002).
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

Schlagworte: Europe, family formation, fertility


In this paper we conduct descriptive aggregate analyses to revisit the relation between low and lowest-low period fertility on the one, and cohort fertility and key fertility-related behaviors---such as leaving the parental home, marriage and female labor force participation---on the other side. First, we identify a systematic pattern of lowest-low fertility that is characterized by a rapid delay of childbearing, a low progression probability after the first child (but not particularly low levels of first-birth childbearing), and a ``falling behind´´ in cohort fertility at relatively late ages. Second, our analyses show that the cross-country correlations in Europe between the total fertility level on the one side, and the total first marriage rate, the proportion of extramarital births and the female labor force participation rate on the other side have reversed during the period from 1975 to 1999. At the end of the 1990s there is also no longer evidence that divorce levels are negatively associated with fertility levels. Based on these analyses we conclude that the emergence of lowest-low fertility during the 1990s has been accompanied by a disruption or even a reversal of many well-known patterns that have been used to explain cross-country differences in fertility patterns.