The Limits to Fertility Recuperation

Daniel Ciganda , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research - Statistics Institute, Udelar.
Nicolas Todd, MPIDR

The recuperation of period fertility rates in the first decade of the 21st century triggered a reinterpretation of the link between development and fertility. Insight into how advances in development can initially depress and later increase fertility rates have been searched primarily on the sociocultural determinants of the demand for children. But the story of post-baby boom fertility is also the story of the contraceptive transition and the move towards increased control over the reproductive process. We argue here that taking into account this dimension opens up a new interpretation of the link between development and fertility. In the explanation we propose, advances in development can, in a first stage, lead to fertility decline by reducing fertility due to poor contraception; once that first stage is completed, however, further advances in development can lead to a recuperation of fertility by reducing the obstacles couples face to achieve their desired family size. We test this hypothesis by using an individual-level computational model from which we simulate the reproductive trajectories of post-baby boom cohorts and forecast the development of aggregate fertility indicators. We estimate the parameters of our model with the aid of Gaussian process emulator using information from France, Ireland and Spain, three countries with widely different fertility trajectories. We find that, even in the presence of a strong positive effect of educational attainment on the demand for children, there are limits to the recuperation scenario imposed by further reductions in exposure and the end of the transition to higher education.

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