Volume 37 - Article 7 | Pages 147–188

Childbearing trends in Iceland, 1982–2013: Fertility timing, quantum, and gender preferences for children in a Nordic context

By Ari Klængur Jónsson

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Date received:01 Nov 2016
Date published:25 Jul 2017
Word count:7300
Keywords:childbearing, childbearing trends, gender preferences for children, Iceland, Nordic fertility regime, parity progression, standardized birth rates


Background: Iceland is one of the most gender-equal countries in the world, but one that does not seem to have experienced the same fertility fluctuations as most other countries, following the enhanced role of women in society.

Objective: In this study we examine the childbearing trends in Iceland during 1982–2013 by analysing the progressions to parities one, two, and three. We also investigate whether there is evidence of gender preferences for children among Icelandic parents.

Methods: Official individual longitudinal register data is used, covering the total female population born in Iceland between 1941 and 1997. The data is analysed by means of event history analysis.

Results: We find evidence of tendencies to postpone motherhood during the period, with increases in fertility for women in their 30s and 40s. The propensity to have a second and a third child has not declined; on the contrary, these birth intensities have increased since the mid-1980s. Estimates suggest that Icelandic parents prefer to have daughters.

Conclusions: During a period of increased educational attainment and postponed family formation, the resilience of Icelandic fertility is intriguing.

Contribution: The study provides the first comprehensive overview of fertility trends in Iceland.

Author's Affiliation

Ari Klængur Jónsson - Háskóli Íslands (University of Iceland), Iceland [Email]

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