Do the More-Educated Prefer Smaller Families?

Frank Heiland, Florida State University
Warren C. Sanderson, International Institute for Applied System Analysis

This paper investigates whether the negative relationship between fertility and education in more developed countries is due to a similar relation between desired fertility and education. Using rich individual-level data from the 1988 and 1994/95 wave of the DJI Familiensurvey we find that more-educated West German men and women are significantly more likely to desire three or more children and less likely to favor childlessness or the one child family compared to less educated individuals. Using individual-level data from the EU-15 countries in 2001 we provide evidence that this relationship holds not only in West Germany but more broadly in Western Europe. The existence of substantial unmet demand for children among the better-educated suggest that this group faces particularly difficult tradeoffs between career and family. Policies that favor the compatibility between career and family may be particularly effective in narrowing the gap between desired and realized family size for this expanding group.

  See paper

Presented in Session 130: Fertility Preferences