MPIDR Working Paper

Educational differences in fertility among female same-sex couples

Ponkilainen, M., Einiö, E., Pietiläinen, M., Myrskylä, M.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2022-030, 46 pages.
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (November 2022)
Open Access


Same-sex couples increasingly often live in legally recognized unions and have children as a couple. The accessibility of parenthood, however, depends on intersecting contextual and couple-level characteristics. Using Finnish register data on female same-sex couples who registered their partnership in 2006–2015, during which important legal reforms regarding same-sex parenthood took place, we explore how education and the existence of prior children predict childbearing within the same-sex partnership. Female same-sex couples’ likelihood of having a child within five years of registering a partnership increased from 34% to 43% over the observation window. This increase was not universal. For couples educated to tertiary level, the increase was from 39% to 52%. For primary and lower-secondary levels, the likelihood decreased from 26% to 8%. Couples with the highest level of education and no prior children were most likely to have a child, and couples with low education and a prior child born before the partnership were least likely to do so. These results highlight how intersectional factors shape female same-sex couples’ fertility behavior. Intensifying educational differences in couples’ fertility may reflect changes in couple-level characteristics as well as institutional barriers to childbearing that need more attention.

Keywords Same-sex couple, Registered partnership, Family formation, Childbearing, Educational level

Das Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (MPIDR) in Rostock ist eines der international führenden Zentren für Bevölkerungswissenschaft. Es gehört zur Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, einer der weltweit renommiertesten Forschungsgemeinschaften.