Education, other socioeconomic characteristics across the life course and fertility in men

Jessica Nisén, University of Helsinki
Pekka Martikainen, University of Helsinki
Mikko Myrskylä, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Karri Silventoinen, University of Helsinki

The level of education and other socioeconomic characteristics in adulthood are known to influence men’s fertility. Also early life socioeconomic characteristics may be related to men’s fertility. The extent to which the association between education and lifetime fertility in men is explained or mediated by other socioeconomic characteristics remains unclear. We studied how men’s adult and early life socioeconomic characteristics are associated with their lifetime fertility and whether educational differences exist net of other socioeconomic characteristics. The data consisted of men born in 1940–1950 (N=37,082) and were derived from the 1950 Finnish Census, which is linked to later registers on sociodemographic information. The data were based on a sample of households and allowed the identification of brothers. As statistical methods the standard and sibling fixed effects Poisson and logistic regression models were used. Education and other socioeconomic characteristics in adulthood were positively associated with the lifetime number of children in men, largely stemming from a higher likelihood of a first birth among the more socioeconomically advantaged. Early life characteristics associated less strongly with lifetime fertility than characteristics in adulthood. The educational gradient in the number of children was not explained by early socioeconomic characteristics or other factors shared by brothers, but occupational position and income in adulthood mediated approximately half of the association. Education and many other characteristics predicted the likelihood of a first birth more strongly than that of a second birth, and the mediating role of occupational position and income was also larger for first than subsequent births. Small differences existed in the likelihood of a third birth overall. In men education associates with lifetime fertility positively and independent of early socioeconomic characteristics and other factors that brothers share in Finland. Economic mechanisms may contribute to educational differences in men’s fertility particularly through the entry into parenthood.

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Presented in Session 67: Education and fertility 2