Economic development, women’s education, and their fertility – a study across and within European countries
Jessica Nisén1, Sebastian Kluesener2, Johan Dahlberg3, Lars Dommermuth4, Aiva Jasilioniene1, Michaela Kreyenfeld5, Trude Lappegard6, Peng Li1, Pekka Martikainen7, Karel Neels8, Bernhard Riederer9, Saskia te Riele10, Harun Sulak2, Laura Szabó11, Alessandra Trimarchi12, Francisco Viciana13, Mikko Myrskyla1
1Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, 2Federal Institute for Population Research, 3Stockholm University, 4Statistics Norway, 5Hertie School of Governance GmbH, 6University of Oslo, 7University of Helsinki, 8Antwerp University, 9Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU), Vienna Institute of Demography/ Austrian Academy of Sciences, 10Statistics Netherlands, 11Hungarian Demographic Research Institute, 12Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, 13Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia

Country-level contextual factors are proposed to affect the fertility behavior of women differently depending on their parity and educational level. Recent research documents variation in women’s educational gradient in fertility across sub-national regions within countries, suggesting differential responses by women also depending on regional context. This study aims at bridging between the national and sub-national layer to enhance understanding of the susceptibility of women’s childbearing to contextual conditions, particularly from the perspective of economic development. Utilizing register, census, and large-scale survey data from 15 European countries, the study measures women’s education, region of living linked to GDP, and fertility at the end of the reproductive career. Our findings show that, conditional on having entered motherhood, fertility of the women with higher education associates less negatively with economic conditions at the country and sub-national regional level. Well-developed contexts may be less detrimental to the continued childbearing of the more highly educated.