An investigation into the complex effects of women's education on first births risks in Sweden

Karin Böttcher, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

In the past most researchers who studied the relation between women’s education and fertility used the attained level of education and found out that female educational level and fertility are negatively associated. However, recently published papers indicate that also among women with the same level of education fertility differs substantially, depending on the field women took their education in. With this they confirm, that in studies analyzing the impact of education on fertility it is of particular importance to include not only the mere level, but also the field of education. In this study we investigate the role of women’s educational level, educational field and educational enrolment in the transition to the first child. The analyses are based on longitudinal Swedish register data from 1990 to 2004 and estimations are done by means of event-history methods. Our results show a u-shaped relation between educational level and the transition to the first child that is caused by a negative effect of educational level on the risk to get a first child for women in the teens and low twenties and a positive effect for women aged 30 or older. We argue that this interrelation between women’s age, educational level and first birth risk - that is consistent for all educational fields - results from educational level specific differences in age at graduation and a delaying effect of school enrolment on entering marriage and motherhood. Pertaining to educational field we show that, at each educational level, women educated for jobs in teaching, health care and social care have the highest risks to get a first child while the risk is lowest for women educated in the field of humanities, arts or social sciences.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 1

´