New insights on childlessness in Germany: a diminishing educational gradient and composition effects of migrants

Martin Bujard, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

Germany has one of the highest proportions of permanent childlessness in the world. Furthermore, it has a strong negative educational gradient at the end of 1960s birth cohorts which ranges between 28 % for highly educated and 15 % for low educated women. Against the background of recent changes in family policy, labour market and population composition, this paper aims to scrutinise recent trends in childlessness. Defining childlessness for women as permanent at the age of 45, we have data until the 1967 cohort. Using Micro Census 2002-2014 data for age specific first births, I extrapolate childlessness for the birth cohorts 1968-1978 for different educational groups. In a second step I analyse long term group-specific childlessness trends by regions, migrant population and education. The results show that there is a trend reversal of childlessness among highly educated women. Their level of childlessness was continuously increasing from the late 1930s to the 1960s cohorts from 19 to 28 %. With a peak in 1968 the trend of childlessness changes and will decrease to 25 % in the late 1970s cohorts. Driver of this development is the abrupt rise of recuperation in the age group of 35-44 years. Contrary, for the medium educated women the trend of increasing childlessness will continue for the 1970s cohort. The group-specific analyses reveal that the low childlessness of low educated women is mainly a result of a composition effect of migrants. As a consequence of both results, the educational gradient for the 1970s cohort of native German women is diminishing. The nexus of education and fertility in Germany has to be reconsidered: The different impact of recent changes of fertility’s determinants on educational groups is discussed – especially the increasing use of reproductive medicine, recent reforms in family policy, labour market and changing attitudes.

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 Presented in Session 112. Childlessness