Childlessness and Educational Attainment among Swedish Women Born in 1955-59

Jan Hoem, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Gerda Neyer, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Gunnar Andersson, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This paper explores how childlessness is associated with a woman’s field and level of education. We use register data containing childbearing and educational histories of all women in a Swedish cohort. The field of education indicates a woman’s potential reproductive behavior better than the mere level. Although in each field permanent childlessness increases (some) with the educational level attained, the field itself is more important. In general, at each educational level women educated for jobs in teaching and health care have much lower childlessness than women in any other major grouping. Women educated in arts and humanities have unusually high fractions childless. Characteristics of an educational system (its flexibility, its gender structure, and the manner in which education is connected to the labor market) influence the relationship between education and fertility. Our results cast doubt on the assumption that higher education per se results in higher childlessness.

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Presented in Session 147: Causal Effects of Schooling on Demographic and Health Outcomes