Population and Health Research Group Seminar – Karel Neels, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Karel Neels, University of Antwerp, Belgium
(co-authored with Jonas Wood)

The effects of increasing enrolment in education and variation in economic context on aggregate trends in order-specific fertility in Belgium, 1960-2000: implications for hazard-based microsimulation models of fertility trends

Delayed childbearing and low fertility have been prominent features of fertility trends in Europe and other developed countries since the 1970s. More recently, the same has been true of Southeast Asia and Latin America. A compilation of published evidence concluded that the main factors to which the underlying trend to later childbearing are attributed are effective contraception, increases in women’s education and labour market participation, value changes, gender equity, partnership changes, housing conditions, economic uncertainty and the absence of supportive family policies. Few studies have attempted to quantify the contribution of any of these factors to aggregate change in both tempo and quantum of fertility. Based on the maternity histories of women aged 14 and older in the 2001 census, discrete-time hazard models are developed which illustrate how increasing enrolment in education and articulated economic cycles have induced aggregate change in the mean age at parenthood (MAC1) and the synthetic parity progression ratio to first births (SPPR1) in Belgium between 1960 and 2000, as well as period variation in the progression to second and higher-order births. The results encourage reflection on the potential and limitations of hazard-based microsimulation models to project short-term and long-term aggregate fertility trends, and on the expansion of such models to include additional exogenous factors.

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