Volume 19 - Article 3 | Pages 15–46  

Overview Chapter 1: Fertility in Europe: Diverse, delayed and below replacement

By Tomas Frejka, Tomáš Sobotka

This article is part of the Special Collection 7 "Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe"

Abstract

Early in the 21st century, three-quarters of Europe’s population lived in countries with fertility considerably below replacement. This general conclusion is arrived at irrespective of whether period or cohort fertility measures are used. In Western and Northern Europe, fertility quantum was slightly below replacement. In Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, fertility quantum as measured by the period total fertility rate (TFR) and its tempo-adjusted version was markedly below replacement; in many countries it was around 1.5, and in some populations it was as low as 1.3 to 1.4 births per woman. Throughout Europe, a historic transformation of childbearing patterns characterised by a pronounced delay of entry into parenthood has been taking place. This secular trend towards later childbearing has greatly contributed to the decline and fluctuations in period fertility rates. Delayed births were being recuperated, especially among childless women, but the extent of recuperation differs by country and region. All in all, despite a recent upward trend in the period TFR, European fertility early in the 21st century was at its lowest point since the Second World War.

Author's Affiliation

  • Tomas Frejka - Independent researcher, International EMAIL
  • Tomáš Sobotka - Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna), Austria EMAIL

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Summary and general conclusions: Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe
Volume 19 - Article 2

Cohort fertility decline in low fertility countries: Decomposition using parity progression ratios
Volume 38 - Article 25

Ultra-low fertility in South Korea: The role of the tempo effect
Volume 38 - Article 22

Czech Republic: A rapid transformation of fertility and family behaviour after the collapse of state socialism
Volume 19 - Article 14

Austria: Persistent low fertility since the mid-1980s
Volume 19 - Article 12

Overview Chapter 7: The rising importance of migrants for childbearing in Europe
Volume 19 - Article 9

Overview Chapter 6: The diverse faces of the Second Demographic Transition in Europe
Volume 19 - Article 8

Overview Chapter 5: Determinants of family formation and childbearing during the societal transition in Central and Eastern Europe
Volume 19 - Article 7

Overview Chapter 4: Changing family and partnership behaviour: Common trends and persistent diversity across Europe
Volume 19 - Article 6

Overview Chapter 3: Birth regulation in Europe: Completing the contraceptive revolution
Volume 19 - Article 5

Overview Chapter 2: Parity distribution and completed family size in Europe: Incipient decline of the two-child family model
Volume 19 - Article 4

Cohort birth order, parity progression ratio and parity distribution trends in developed countries
Volume 16 - Article 11

First birth trends in developed countries: Persisting parenthood postponement
Volume 15 - Article 6

Tempo-quantum and period-cohort interplay in fertility changes in Europe: Evidence from the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden
Volume 8 - Article 6

Cohort Reproductive Patterns in the Nordic Countries
Volume 5 - Article 5

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