Volume 35 - Article 18 | Pages 505–534  

Fertility progression in Germany: An analysis using flexible nonparametric cure survival models

By Vincent Bremhorst, Michaela Kreyenfeld, Philippe Lambert


Objective: This paper uses data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) to study the transition to second and third births. In particular, we seek to distinguish the factors that determine the timing of fertility from the factors that influence ultimate parity progression.

Methods: We employ cure survival models, a technique commonly used in epidemiological studies and in the statistical literature but only rarely applied to fertility research.

Results: We find that education has a different impact on the timing and the ultimate probability of having a second and a third birth. Furthermore, we show that the shape of the fertility schedule for the total population differs from that of ‘susceptible women’ (i.e., those who have a second or a third child).

Conclusions: Standard event history models conflate timing and quantum effects. Our approach overcomes this shortcoming. It estimates separate parameters for the hazard rate of having a next child for the ‘susceptible population’ and the ultimate probability of having another child for the entire population at risk.

Contribution: We go beyond standard cure survival models, also known as split population models, used in fertility research by specifying a flexible non-parametric model using Bayesian P-splines for the latent distribution (related to the timing of an extra birth) instead of a parametric model. Our approach is, so far, limited to time-constant covariates, but can be extended to include time-varying covariates as well.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Coronavirus and care: How the coronavirus crisis affected fathers' involvement in Germany
Volume 44 - Article 4

Social policies, separation, and second birth spacing in Western Europe
Volume 37 - Article 37

Fertility Reactions to the "Great Recession" in Europe: Recent Evidence from Order-Specific Data
Volume 29 - Article 4

Economic Uncertainty and Family Dynamics in Europe: Introduction
Volume 27 - Article 28

Anticipatory analysis and its alternatives in life-course research: Part 2: Marriage and first birth
Volume 15 - Article 17

Anticipatory analysis and its alternatives in life-course research: Part 1: Education and first childbearing
Volume 15 - Article 16

Time Squeeze, Partner Effect or Self-Selection?: An Investigation into the Positive Effect of Women’s Education on Second Birth Risks in West Germany
Volume 7 - Article 2

Fertility Decisions in the FRG and GDR: An Analysis with Data from the German Fertility and Family Survey
Special Collection 3 - Article 11

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