Increasing Childlessness in Europe: Time Trends and Macro Determinants

Maria-Letizia Tanturri, Università di Padova
Anna Rotkirch, Väestöliitto
Anneli Miettinen, Väestöliitto
Ivett Szalma, Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences
Annalisa Donno, Università di Padova

This paper provides an overview of trends in female and male childlessness in Europe over the last decades and explores associations between cohort childlessness and national demographic and socioeconomic indicators. We also estimate proportions of voluntary childless people. Results show that childlessness has increased at ages 30-34 and 40-44 years among both men and women, with few exceptions and marked cross-county differences. At macro level childlessness is higher in those countries where mean age at marriage is high and entry into motherhood delayed on average. Childless remains negatively associated with proportions ever married, and completed cohort fertility. The prevalence of childlessness does not seem to be associated with proportions of women with high education, with women’s employment rates and with divorce rates at country level. Higher childlessness is found in countries with widespread individualist values. However, very few Europeans intend to remain childless on purpose or choose a childfree lifestyle.

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Presented in Session 124: Low Fertility and Childlessness