Agency in Fertility Decisions in Northern, Central and Southern Europe during the Demographic Transition: The Role of Child Mortality and Sex-Composition

Glenn Sandström, Umeå University
David Sven Reher, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Alberto Sanz-Gimeno, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Frans W. A. van Poppel, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

A set of linked reproductive histories taken from Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain for the period 1871-1960 is used to address key issues regarding reproductive change and reproductive choice. Using event history analysis the paper investigates how the hazard of additional births was influenced by childhood mortality and the sex-composition among the surviving children when the reproductive decisions were made. The preliminary results show that couples were continuously regulating their fertility to achieve reproductive goals even during the early stages of the fertility transition. Couples experiencing child fatalities as well as gender imbalance in the surviving sibset show significant increases in the hazard of additional births net of any biological impact of terminated breastfeeding. The findings offers strong proof for the existence of active decision-making during the demographic transition and applies a method to model these behaviors over the full reproductive history.

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Presented in Session 150: Sex Preferences and Sex Composition Effects on Fertility Intentions