MPIDR Working Paper

Regional variation in women’s education-fertility nexus in Northern and Western Europe

Wood, J., Marynissen, L., Nisén, J., Fallesen, P., Neels, K., Trimarchi, A., Dommermuth, L., Van Gaalen, R., Kolk, M., Martikainen, P.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2021-021, 44 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (November 2021)
Revised November 2021
Open Access


The relationship between female education and fertility is a long-standing topic in demography, our understanding of which continues to develop. Since the turn of the century, a growing body of research has documented cross-national variation in the female educational gradient in fertility, with mostly positive gradients in Western and Northern European countries. However, such national gradients may mask important variation in the educational gradient in fertility at the subnational level. This study is among the first to use large-scale individual-level administrative data to study regional educational gradients in parity-specific fertility in Northern and Western European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. Adopting hazard models and model-based Synthetic Parity Progression Ratios, our results highlight considerable subnational regional variation in the educational gradient in first, second and third births. We conclude that, in addition to variation between countries, substantial within-country regional variation deserves to receive future scholarly attention. The documentation of regional variation in the female education-fertility nexus is a substantial extension of cross-national comparisons and contributes to the empirical and theoretical debate on the context-contingencies of the education-fertility nexus.

Keywords: Europe, education, fertility, population registers, regional demography
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.