Enrollment in Education and Timing of First Child in the Netherlands

Saskia te Riele , Statistics Netherlands

As in many European countries, period fertility levels in the Netherlands declined since 2010, from 1,8 to 1,59 in 2018. At first, this was considered a temporary effect due to ‘the great recession’ of 2008. With low fertility rates persisting, however, the question arises whether more structural changes have taken place, possibly leading to lower cohort fertility in younger cohorts. Fertility figures suggest that postponement is the main reason for the low TFR in the Netherlands: birthrates dropped primarily in women in their twenties and lower thirties. In older women the birth rate is still rising, suggesting that women are going to catch up again. This paper focuses on the reasons for the observed postponement. Compared to ten years ago, it takes longer for young people to land a steady job. Results from a Statistics Netherlands survey suggest that having a steady job is one of the most important preconditions for starting a family. It has, therefore, been suggested that the increasing flexibility of the Dutch labor market is the main reason for the observed postponement of motherhood. However, educational levels are also still rising. Especially women are spending more time in education. Here, it is investigated to what extent the longer time enrolled in education is the main reason for the observed postonement of motherhood, by looking at the duration between finishing school and the birth of the first child in older and younger cohorts of graduates.

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