The likely future increase of fertility in Europe

Tomas Sobotka, Vienna Institute of Demography

The prevailing voices in the debate on contemporary low fertility in Europe foresee a continuation of low fertility in the future. This contribution aims to combine selected empirical analyses with descriptive findings and theoretical arguments supporting the view that fertility rates in Europe are likely to increase in the next decades. In a short term, some increase in period fertility rates will probably occur as a result of diminishing childbearing postponement. I will mostly focus on longer-term perspectives. The arguments discussed will encompass the possible emergence of the positive effect of education on fertility, the impact of expanding higher-fertility populations, the emergence of a positive link between economic and social development and fertility rates, the lack of evidence on the importance of ‘postmodern values’ as the driving forces of very low fertility, and the likelihood of some success of the governments’ efforts to support families.

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Presented in Session 82: Low fertility: present and future