Reports 2017/12

Decline in fertility from 2010

The relevance of education, economic activity and economic ressources for first and third births

This publication is in Norwegian only.

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The focus of this report is on the impact of women’s economic activity, economic resources and education on first births and third births in the period 2000-2015. The main aim of the analyses is to investigate whether the impact of these factors has changed in the period, which saw a decrease in the total fertility rate (TFR) from 2010 compared to the preceding years.

The analyses are based on information from various administrative registers, which collectively cover the entire population of Norway. The sample consists of all women resident in Norway during the observed period. The analyses are divided into two parts: first births among women aged 20 to 39 years in the period 2000 to 2015, and third births of mothers with two children aged 20 to 49 years in the period from 2004 to 2015.

We apply event history models as the main method in the analyses, implying that a group of women is followed over time until the year of first or third birth. Based on discrete time hazard models, we quantify the impact of the different explanatory variables. The hazard is the conditional probability that an event, in our case a first or third birth, will occur.

For first births, we conclude that there are three factors that have a significant impact on the decline of first births rates during the period with a falling TFR: (i) economic activity, (ii) work experience and (iii) unemployment in the municipality. All three factors are closely linked to the general economic situation in Norway and the labour market. The results therefore suggest that the probability of women in Norway having children is related to their economic situation as well as labour market conditions.

The decline in third births is a reflection of a long-lasting downward trend. Our results show that there are disparities between the groups in terms of the chance of having a third child, but most of these disparities are stable throughout the whole observation period. This means that the decline in third births is more of a general trend across the different groups and that this trend has increased since 2010. This may be an indication that women now prefer to have fewer children than previously. Our results suggest that local unemployment rates have had a significant impact on the continued decline in third birth rates that has taken place since 2010. This factor is related to the general economic situation in Norway.

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