Declining Ideal Family Size in Europe: The Influence of Actual Fertility Context

Maria Rita Testa, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Leonardo Grilli, University of Florence

The persistence of the two-child family ideal is no longer universally widespread in Europe (Goldstein et al. 2003), but the reasons why people prefer a given number of children have not yet been systematically investigated. We examine the individual and regional factors of ideal family size by taking into account the unobservable similarities of people sharing the same demographic and socio-economic environment. Multilevel binary and ordered logistic regression models are implemented, by using 2001 Eurobarometer data. The hierarchical structure is defined by respondents embedded within regions of the 15 European Union countries. The main result is that the context of actual fertility of the older generations influences the preferences of the younger cohorts: the lower, on average, the past actual childbearing in the region, the higher is the individual probability of people in reproductive ages to prefer smaller families.

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Presented in Session 130: Fertility Preferences