MPIDR Working Paper

Educational differences in cohort fertility across sub-national regions in Europe

Nisén, J., Klüsener, S., Dahlberg, J., Dommermuth, L., Jasilioniene, A., Kreyenfeld, M., Lappegård, T., Li, P., Martikainen, P., Neels, K., Riederer, B., te Riele, S., Szabó, L., Trimarchi, A., Viciana, F., Wilson, B., Myrskylä, M.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2019-018, 37 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (September 2019)
Open Access


Educational differences in female cohort fertility have been shown to vary across high-income countries and over time, but knowledge about how educational fertility differentials play out at the sub-national regional level is limited. Examining these sub-national regional patterns might improve our understanding of national patterns, as regionally varying contextual conditions may affect fertility. This study provides for the first time for a large number of European countries a comprehensive account of educational differences in the cohort fertility rate (CFR) at the sub-national regional level. We harmonise data from population registers, censuses, and large-sample surveys for 15 countries in order to measure women’s completed fertility by educational level and region of residence at the end of the reproductive lifespan. In order to explore associations between educational differences in CFRs and levels of economic development, we link our data to regional estimates of GDP per capita. Empirical Bayesian estimation is used to reduce uncertainty in the regional fertility estimates. Our results document an overall negative gradient between the CFR and level of education, and notable variation in the gradient across regions. The gradient varies systematically by the level of economic development: moving from less to more developed regions, we observe smallergradients both across countries and within countries. However, the within-country patterns of countries differ. Our findings underline the variability of educational gradients in women’s fertility, suggest that higher levels of development may be associated with less negative gradients, and call for more in-depth fertility analyses by education at the sub-national level.

Keywords: Europe, cohort fertility, economic development, education, population registers, regions
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.