Gender Differences in the Link between Education and Fertility in Australia

Ann Evans , Australian National University
Edith E. Gray, Australian National University

In the last 50 years Australia has undergone a rapid education expansion and now boasts one of the most highly educated populations among OECD countries. In line with the pattern observed across many Western countries, a distinct feature of the recent education expansion has been its gendered nature. Females are now more likely to complete secondary schooling compared to males, and also more likely to go on to tertiary education. While several decades of demographic research has identified education as being strongly associated with the tempo and quantum of fertility in Australia, there has been far less work investigating the link between education and fertility beyond basic descriptive studies. Motivated by the paucity of research for Australia, this paper investigates the association between education attainment and having a first, second and third child, paying particular attention to gender differences. We use data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, from 2001 to 2017. We select men and women aged 15-44 years and examine transitions to first, second and third births by sex as well as education levels. We find surprising similarities in the relationship between education attainment and transition to first, second and third birth for men and women. For both sexes, higher education is associated with a lower transition to first birth but a higher transition for second births and mixed results for third births.

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