Patterns of Low and Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe

Francesco C. Billari, Università Bocconi
Hans-Peter Kohler, University of Pennsylvania

In this paper we revisit the relation between low and lowest-low period fertility on the one, and cohort fertility and key fertility-related behaviors on the other side. First, we identify a systematic pattern of lowest-low fertility that is characterized by a rapid delay of childbearing, a low progression probability after the first child, and a "falling behind'' at relatively late ages. Second, our analyses show that the cross-country correlations in Europe between the total fertility level on the one side, and the total first marriage rate, the proportion of extramarital births and the female labor force participation rate on the other side have reversed during 1975-1999. Based on these analyses we conclude that the emergence of lowest-low fertility during the 1990s has been accompanied by a disruption or even a reversal of many well-known patterns that have been used to explain cross-country differences infertility patterns.

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Presented in Session 51: Very Low Fertility I