Volume 37 - Article 12 | Pages 325–362

Childlessness and fertility by couples' educational gender (in)equality in Austria, Bulgaria, and France

By Beata Osiewalska

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Date received:16 Dec 2015
Date published:15 Aug 2017
Word count:8473
Keywords:Bayesian demography, childlessness, couples, education, equality, fertility, gender, hurdle model, socioeconomic status, Zero-Truncated Poisson


Background: In modern, highly developed countries the association between education and fertility seems to be equivocal: A negative influence of education mainly applies to women, while among men the correlation is often positive or negligible. Although the gender differences have been examined in depth, couples’ procreative behaviour treated as the result of a conflict between male and female characteristics is still understudied.

Objective: This study aims to investigate couples’ reproductive behaviour among contemporary European populations with regard to (in)equality between partners’ educational levels and the joint educational resources of a couple. Various measures of educational endogamy are considered.

Methods: The hurdle zero-truncated Poisson model within the Bayesian framework is applied. The data comes from the first wave of the Generations and Gender Survey for Austria, Bulgaria, and France.

Results: Homogamous low-educated partners have, on average, the highest fertility. The highly educated postpone childbearing and have a smaller number of children in all countries except France, where their completed fertility does not differ from that of other unions. The effect of hypergamy is insignificant and is thus similar to homogamy in medium education. Hypogamy negatively influences fertility in Bulgaria and Austria, while in France the effect is insignificant.

Conclusions: The small variation in fertility due to couple-level education observed in France indicates that proper institutional support for families might help couples overcome possible obstacles and enhance fertility for all educational profiles.

Contribution: This study provides a perspective on the relationship between reproductive behaviour and educational pairing in varying country-specific contexts. It reaches key conclusions on contemporary fertility regarding both childlessness and parenthood and their association with couples’ different educational profiles.

Author's Affiliation

Beata Osiewalska - Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Krakowie, Poland [Email]

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