Volume 31 - Article 5 | Pages 119–136  

Age-specific fertility by educational level in the Finnish male cohort born 1940‒1950

By Jessica Nisén, Pekka Martikainen, Karri Silventoinen, Mikko Myrskylä


Background: Education is positively associated with completed fertility rate (CFR) among men in Nordic countries, but the age patterns of fertility by educational level are poorly documented. Moreover, it is not known what parities contribute to the higher CFR among more highly educated men.

Objective: To describe men’s fertility by age, parity, and education in Finland.

Methods: The study is based on register data covering the male cohort born in 1940‒1950 (N=38,838). Education was measured at ages 30‒34 and classified as basic, lower secondary, upper secondary, and tertiary. Fertility was measured until ages 59‒69. We calculated completed and age-specific fertility rates, and decomposed the educational gradient in CFR into parity-specific contributions.

Results: The more highly educated men had more children (CFR: basic 1.71 and tertiary 2.06), had them later (mean age at having the first child: basic 26.1 and tertiary 28.1), and had them within a shorter interval (interquartile range of age at having the first child: basic 5.8 and tertiary 5.2). The educational gradient in the cumulative fertility rate was negative at young ages but turned positive by the early thirties. High levels of childlessness among those with a basic education explained three-quarters of the CFR difference between the lowest and highest educational groups. Fertility at ages above 45 was low and did not widen the educational gradient in CFR.

Conclusions: The fact that highly educated men have more children than their counterparts with less education is largely attributable to higher fertility levels at older ages and the lower probability of remaining childless. Variation in fertility timing and quantity is wider among men with a low level of education.

Author's Affiliation

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