The Education Gradient in Childbearing: Changes in the Education Distribution

Federica Querin , Princeton University

In the last three decades, two demographic processes have been shaping developed countries: declines in fertility and increases in education levels. The educational gradient in childbearing tends to be negative, meaning that highly educated women have fewer children, albeit the trend might be reversing. However, the transition to higher levels of human capital happened at different times and speeds depending on the country. This lead to a change in meaning and selectivity of absolute levels of education. Using the Gender and Generation Survey and international educational attainment data, I construct a relative education measure that includes women’s relative educational positioning by country and birth cohort and I use it to predict completed fertility and childlessness in low fertility settings. Preliminary findings show that relative education matters in addition to absolute education measures and it is especially important at the ends of the education distribution.

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 Presented in Session 129. Education and Fertility