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Fertility recuperation strategies: are women from different social backgrounds able to catch up at later ages?

David De Wachter, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The majority of papers about the recent fertility decline focus on factors associated with the postponement of childbearing. Indeed, we now have quite a good understanding of the mechanisms that drive women to delay motherhood to ever later ages. The empirical and theoretical evidence about this process is vast and still growing. Despite the importance of postponement in the explanation of below replacement fertility, there is a striking lacuna in working knowledge about the recuperation of fertility forgone at earlier ages. So far only a handful of studies have explicitly addressed this issue by investigating cohort fertility profiles. However, direct micro-level evidence about differential fertility recuperation strategies adopted by women from different social backgrounds is generally lacking. This study tries to tackle this issue by using longitudinal data for Belgium drawn from the 1991 and 2001 census. Preliminary results indicate that explanations of postponement and recuperation are not readily interchangeable.

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