Values as Drivers of Fertility in Norway

Beata Osiewalska , Cracow University of Economics
Vegard Skirbekk
Catherine Bowen, Independent

Research has revealed several different drivers of fertility and fertility decline (e.g., increased education, contraception). So far, however, the potential impact of (changing) values on fertility has been given insufficient attention. Using data from 25.000+ Norwegian participants of the Generations and Gender Survey, European Values Study, and European Social Survey, we explore how ideas about gender roles, marriage, and family, as well as the importance of religion, tradition and self-direction are related to total fertility and childlessness in Norway between 1982 to 2016. Given its high standard of living and permissive social norms, we argue that Norway is an ideal context for studying how values are related to fertility. The results of regression analyses suggest that values are related to fertility and that value change across cohorts—particularly with regard to religion and gender roles—is an important driver fertility decline and increased childlessness in Norway. Our results suggest that different values are important for men and women’s fertility and that values are generally more strongly related to the fertility of more recent cohorts. Surprisingly, we found evidence that there has been a shift among the youngest cohort toward more traditional marriage and family values (i.e., about a woman’s need to have a child in order to be fulfilled, that marriage should never be ended), suggesting that future fertility decline could be less in Norway as the youngest cohort completes its fertility.

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 Presented in Session 116. The Role of Culture for Childbearing