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Increased education and postponed fertility: the rising reproductive cost of attaining status

Samir KC, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

We argue that the achievement of social status through education leads to postponed and lowered fertility in countries all over the world. Rising educational attainment relates to an increasingly later onset of fertility - as most individuals postpone childbearing until after graduation. New, unique education data allow estimation of the number of years required to reach a certain percentile in the schooling distribution by country/gender and age group. We consider 60 countries with data available for at least one point in time (N=254). We find that the mean age at first birth is younger than the median school graduation age for every point in time for all countries. On average, it takes women 5.5 years from school graduation age until their first child is born. Regression results show that graduating one year later relates to a maternity postponement of 3.6 months.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Poster Session 2: fertility, family and children