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Postponement and recuperation of Belgian fertility: how are they related to rising female educational attainment?

Karel Neels and David De Wachter

Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, 2010, vol. 8, issue 1, 77-106

Abstract: Fertility trends in Europe after 1970 are routinely referred to in terms of the postponement of fertility. The shortening of the effective reproductive lifespan and its association with post-materialist values have raised questions as to whether fertility can or will be recuperated. Decomposition of cohort fertility in Belgium by level of education shows that the postponement of fertility after 1970 is closely related to the expansion of education: compared with cohorts born in 1946-1950, 40 to 50 per cent of the difference in cumulated fertility at age 25 in the 1951-1975 birth cohorts is attributable to rising educational levels. Educational differentials also prove relevant with regard to the recuperation of fertility at older ages as the tempo and quantum of order-specific fertility have responded differently to variations in the economic and policy context, depending on the educational level considered. Differential fertility trends by level of education have thus attenuated the relationship between female educational attainment and completed fertility in recent cohorts.

Date: 2010
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