The End of a European Exception? The First Signs of a Durable Decline in French Fertility

Didier Breton, Université de Strasbourg and Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
John Tomkinson , Université de Strasbourg

Having long represented an exception in the context of European fertility, France has recently witnessed a decline in its ‘high’ fertility. We aim to understand this trend by focusing upon the two specific characteristics of French fertility – low levels of childlessness and high progression to third births. Using data from the Insee Permanent Demographic Sample (EDP), we demonstrate how a renewed postponement of entry into motherhood amongst lower educated women and a changing composition of age at first birth have resulted in a falling progression to both first and third births. We argue that the latter trend is likely to lead to a durable decline in French fertility – as women continue to delay childbearing, fewer women will progress to a third birth and thus a falling contribution of third order fertility rates will impact upon the total fertility rate.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course