Choice of study discipline and the postponement of motherhood in Europe: the impact of expected earnings, gender composition and family attitudes

Jan Van Bavel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Theory suggests that the field of education may be at least as consequential for fertility behavior as the duration and level of education. Yet, this qualitative dimension of educational achievement has largely been neglected in demographic studies. This papers aims to analyze the mechanisms relating the field of education with the postponement of motherhood by graduated women aged 20 to 40 years across Europe. The second round of the European Social Survey is used to assess the impact of four features of study disciplines that are identified as key to reproductive decision making: the expected starting wage, the steepness of the earning profile, attitudes towards gendered family roles, and gender composition. The results indicate that the postponement of motherhood is relatively limited among graduates from study disciplines where stereotypical family attitudes are prevailing and where a large share of the graduates is female. Both the level of the starting wage and the steepness of the earning profile are found to be associated with strong postponement. These results are robust to controlling for the partnership situation and the age at entry into the labor market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-458
Number of pages20
JournalDemography
Volume47
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • fertility
  • education
  • postponement of parenthood
  • family values
  • social demography
  • income
  • human capital

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