MPIDR Working Paper

Cohort childbearing age patterns in low-fertility countries in the late 20th century: Is the postponement of births an inherent element?

Frejka, T., Calot, G.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2001-009
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (April 2001)
Open Access


Major changes in the age patterns of fertility were characteristic of fertility trends following the Second World War. The paper provides an overview and analysis of changes in age patterns of cohort childbearing in low-fertility countries during the second half of the 20 th century. In Western countries cohorts born around 1940 had earlier childbearing than those of 1930. Early childbearing persisted among cohorts born during the 1940s, although generally at a lower level. Major shifts occurred among the cohorts born during the 1950s. These women incurred considerable fertility deficits when young and compensated, at least in part if not totally, with surpluses when they reached their upper twenties and thirties. Many of the postponed births were made up. The decline in fertility among young women continues in the cohorts born during the 1960s and 1970s. In the formerly socialist countries the fertility decline among young women commenced with those born in the late 1950s and is continuing among those born in the 1960s and 1970s. In almost all low-fertility countries each cohort of young women born in the 1960s and 1970s is having fewer children than preceding ones. It appears unrealistic to expect that these cohorts will eventually attain replacement levels because of the considerable deficits incurred when young. Their fertility when older would have to be extraordinarily high even to realize completed fertility of the cohorts born around 1960, which on average was below replacement. A postponement of births regarded as temporary by the couples involved with many of the postponed births never being born, as well as conscious decisions to have fewer births than previous cohorts, appear to be continuing processes in most countries. (AUTHORS)
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