MPIDR Working Paper

Cohort fertility patterns in the Nordic Countries

Andersson, G., Rønsen, M., Knudsen, L. B., Lappegård, T., Neyer, G. R., Skrede, K., Teschner, K., Vikat, A.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2008-008, 53 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (February 2008)
Open Access


Previous analyses of period fertility suggest that the trends of the Nordic countries are sufficiently similar to speak of a common "Nordic fertility regime". We investigate whether this assumption can be corroborated by comparing cohort fertility patterns in the Nordic countries. We study cumulated and completed fertility of Nordic birth cohorts based on the childbearing histories of women born in 1935 and later derived from the population registers of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. We further explore childbearing behaviour by women’s educational attainment. The results show remarkable similarities in postponement and recuperation between the countries and very small differences in completed fertility across educational groups. Median childbearing age is about 2−3 years higher in the 1960−64 cohort than in the 1950−54 cohort, but the younger cohort recuperates the fertility level of the older cohort at ages 30 and above. A similar pattern of recuperation can be observed for highly educated women as compared to women with less education. An interesting finding is that of a positive relationship between educational level and the final number of children when women who become mothers at similar ages are compared. Country differences in fertility outcome are generally rather low. Childlessness is highest in Finland and lowest in Norway, and the educational differentials are largest in Norway. Despite such differences, the cohort analyses in many ways support the notion of a common Nordic fertility regime.
Keywords: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, cohort fertility
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