Spatial perspectives for understanding fertility changes in Europe
XII, 194 pages. St Andrews, University of St Andrews (2022), unpublished
This PhD thesis investigates spatial variation in fertility in Europe. While many studies have explored historic trends in spatial variation of fertility, they often overlooked spatial components to recent fertility trends. Most research focuses on fertility variation across countries or within population subgroups, little research has been conducted on subnational fertility variation across regions. Thus, the relevance of spatial conditions in modern subnational fertility in Europe is still unclear. This thesis provides an explicit examination of the role of spatial conditions in European fertility. The study first applies spatial models to novel ecological datasets on European and Nordic countries compiled from eight different sources. It then utilizes multilevel event history models to study individual-level register data from Finland. The analysis first shows significant spatial variation in fertility levels across Europe, such that fertility is higher in rural regions and lower in urban areas. Second, fertility variation is multidimensional and is comprised of economic and sociocultural components as well as spatial components such as spatial interaction and spillover. Third, both individual-, such as unemployment, and aggregate-level, such as level of urbanization, conditions influence individuals’ childbearing behavior. Fourth, the roles of individual-level fertility conditions are not uniform across levels of urbanization as aggregate-level factors can serve as a modifier for the individual-level conditions of fertility. This thesis meaningfully improves our understanding of the causes of spatial variation of fertility and sheds light on the mechanisms of fertility change in Europe.