Working PaperPDF Available
Increasing childlessness in Europe:
time trends and country differences
Anneli Miettinen, Anna Rotkirch, Ivett Szalma,
Annalisa Donno, and Maria-Letizia Tanturri
Changing families and sustainable societies:
Policy contexts and diversity over the life course and across generations
A project funded by European Union's Seventh Framework
Programme under grant agreement no. 320116
© Copyright is held by the authors.
33 (2015)
Acknowledgement: The research leading to these results has received funding from the European
Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 320116 for
the research project FamiliesAndSocieties.
Increasing childlessness in Europe:
time trends and country differences
Anneli Miettinen1, Anna Rotkirch1, Ivett Szalma2,
Annalisa Donno3, and Maria-Letizia Tanturri3
Abstract:
This working paper provides an overview of trends in female and male childlessness in
Europe over the last decades and explores associations between cohort childlessness and
national demographic and social indicators. We also estimate proportions of voluntary
childless people. Results show that childlessness has increased at ages 3034 and 4044
years among both men and women throughout Europe, with few exceptions. Female
childlessness at ages 4044 years remains low (below or at 10%) in Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Russia, moderate
(1115%) in France, Belgium, Georgia, Germany, Norway, Slovak Republic, Slovenia,
Sweden, and the US, and high (around 20%) in Austria, Italy, Finland, the Netherlands and
the UK. Male lifetime childlessness is highest (above 23% among men aged 4549) in
Finland, Italy, Germany, the UK and the Czech Republic. Childlessness is more common
among men with little education, and among women with either very high or very low
education. Childlessness is higher in countries where mean age at marriage is high and entry
into motherhood is on average more delayed. Childlessness remains negatively associated
with proportions ever married, and also with completed cohort fertility. The last association
has even grown stronger in the youngest cohorts, suggesting that in a low fertility context,
increasing childlessness contributes markedly to overall fertility. The prevalence of
childlessness does not seem to be associated with proportions of women with high
education, with women’s employment rates and with divorce rates at country level. Higher
childlessness is found in countries with widespread individualist values.
Keywords: childlessness, fertility, gender equity, marriage, divorce, childfree, Europe
Affiliation:
1) Population Research Institute, Väestöliitto (PRI)
2) Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS) and
Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA TK)
3) University of Padova (UNIPD)
1
Contents
1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 2
2. Macro-level factors contributing to childlessness ............................................................. 3
2.1. Lack of partners .............................................................................................................. 4
2.2. Later parenthood ............................................................................................................. 4
2.3. Higher divorce rates and union dissolution risks ............................................................ 4
2.4. Material resources and social status ................................................................................ 5
2.5. Women’s social position ................................................................................................. 5
2.6. Individualisation and value liberalism ............................................................................ 6
3. Materials and methods ......................................................................................................... 6
3.1. Defining and measuring childlessness ............................................................................ 6
3.1.1. Gender differences in childlessness ......................................................................... 8
3.2. Data sources used ............................................................................................................ 8
3.2.1. Data on male and female cohort childlessness ........................................................ 8
3.2.2. Data on macro-level indicators ............................................................................... 9
3.2.3. Eurobarometer data on fertility intentions .............................................................. 9
4. Trends in female and male childlessness ............................................................................ 9
4.1. Changes in female cohort childlessness .......................................................................... 9
4.2. Changes in female childlessness 19902010 ................................................................ 13
4.4. Male childlessness......................................................................................................... 16
4.5. Educational differences in childlessness ....................................................................... 18
5. Associations between country indicators and childlessness ........................................... 20
5.1. Fertility indicators ......................................................................................................... 21
5.1.1. Mean age at first birth and childlessness .............................................................. 21
5.1.2. Cohort fertility and childlessness .......................................................................... 23
5.2. Partnership formation and childlessness ....................................................................... 24
5.2.1. Proportions of ever married and childless ............................................................ 24
5.2.2. Age at first marriage and childlessness ................................................................. 26
5.2.3. Divorce rates and childlessness ............................................................................. 27
5.3. Women’s social positions ............................................................................................. 29
5.3.1. Female education and childlessness ...................................................................... 29
5.3.2. Female employment and childlessness .................................................................. 30
5.4. Values and childlessness ............................................................................................... 32
5.4.1. Post-materialist values .......................................................................................... 32
5.4.2. Importance of children in marriage....................................................................... 33
6. Intended and voluntary childlessness ............................................................................... 35
6.1. Intended childlessness ................................................................................................... 36
6.1.1. Intended childlessness by educational levels ......................................................... 37
6.2. Proportions of childfree respondents ............................................................................ 38
6.2.1. Childfree Europeans by educational levels ........................................................... 40
7. Conclusions ......................................................................................................................... 40
8. References ........................................................................................................................... 43
Appendix Tables ..................................................................................................................... 46
2
1. Introduction
Although childlessness is increasing in all developed countries, we know very little about
recent European developments and their underlying causes. There is no up-to-date review of
childlessness in EU countries outside some of the European Surveys, and Eurostat does not
discern fertility by parities at macro level. The proportion of men and women having no
children affects human and economic development in several ways ranging from population
dynamics and family structure to individual wellbeing, calling for enhanced empirical and
theoretical understanding of childlessness in developed societies.
Time trends in the prevalence of childlessness are quite similar across European
countries. The prevalence of childlessness was high among the 18801910 birth cohorts,
followed by a more or less continuous drop across the 19101945 birth cohorts ending with
the post-war “baby boomers”, turning into a steady rise in childlessness across the cohorts
born after the Second World War (Rowland 2007; Frejka et al. 2001; Prioux 1993). In early
cohorts, there was often a negative relationship between overall fertility and childlessness, but
this association appears to have weakened with the advent of the so-called second
demographic transition. Once fertility has fallen to around or below replacement level,
countries with similar levels of completed fertility may have quite different proportions of
childless women. Thus high childlessness at or above 20 per cent is found in both relatively
high and relatively low fertility countries (Austria, with a total fertility rate (TFR) in 2012 at
1.44 vs. England & Wales with a TFR of 1.94), as is low childlessness (at or below 10 per
cent) (Russian Federation vs. Czech Republic with their 1.7 and 1.45 TFR in 2013,
respectively).
Previous studies have discerned four different combinations of fertility and
childlessness in today’s Europe: high-low, high-high, low-low, and low-high (Basten &
Sobotka 2013). First, the French and Scandinavian fertility pattern is characterized by
“egalitarian” fertility, or close to replacement level fertility and low childlessness. The
fertility pattern in some countries, such as the United Kingdom, is described by high fertility
and high childlessness. These countries are marked by polarized fertility or high cohort
childlessness (around 20%), but also a higher share of women with four or more children
(Shkolnikov et al. 2007). Third, Central and Eastern Europe and some Southern European
countries have long been characterized by lowest low or low fertility but relatively low level
of childlessness. This may partly explained by the absence of later arrival of the so-called
second demographic transition in these countries, including adherence to the values of
3
traditional marriage and motherhood and negative attitudes to voluntary childlessness (Merz
and Liefbroer 2012). Women in these countries had rarely been childless in the past, but the
trend may be changing. Finally, the low fertility in the German-speaking countries and in
today’s Southern Europe is largely attributable to high childlessness (Goldstein et al. 2003;
Sobotka 2013). These countries also have quite egalitarian fertility, but towards the lower end,
so that few have three or more children compared to the high fertility-low childlessness
countries (Basten et al. 2013; see Mills et al. 2013.)
In this report, we provide an overview of macro-trends in childlessness in different
European countries as well as the United States and Australia.
Data on fertility and childlessness have typically been collected and studied only for
women. Whenever possible, we include data on childlessness also among men. We analyse
country-level associations between childlessness and marital and fertility patterns as well as
associations with economic and value change and gender equity.
2. Macro-level factors contributing to childlessness
Childlessness in contemporary societies is a relatively new research topic and there is no
established theoretical framework for studying it. Since childlessness is not necessarily
dependent on overall fertility, as stressed above, theoretical explanations behind childlessness
may differ from those concerned with average fertility levels (Tanturri and Mencarini 2008;
Mills et al. 2013). Although a comprehensive theory of childlessness has been developed yet
(Basten 2009; Waren & Pals 2013; Graham et al. 2013; Gobbi 2013), several contributing
factors have been outlined.
Following Philipov et al. (2008) we mean with macro contexts studies of several
countries (to study differences across countries) or several years (to study change within
countries). It is beyond the scope of this analysis to investigate causeeffect relationships
between the study variables. We identify associations between country characteristics and
childlessness rates, without debating the direction of this association or possible mediating
variables.
At the macro level, major factors associated with rates of childlessness include trends in
marriage (e.g., median age at marriage and the proportions marrying) (Portanti and Withworth
2009), trends in family formation (e.g., median age at the first birth and average family size),
and different factors contributing to voluntary and involuntary childlessness (Rowland 2007;
Hakim 2005). The impact of family change (e.g. the rise of divorce rate) on childlessness
4
remains a relatively unexplored area of research. We focus at two cohorts, women born in
1940-44 and women born in 1960-69, in order to examine possible changes in the
associations over time. Macro-level indicators reflect the situation in the countries when
women of these cohorts were around 30 years. Below, we briefly summarize the major
different factors known to contribute to childlessness with an emphasis on socio-structural
factors possible to study with existing macro data.
2.1. Lack of partners
Historically and across societies, failure to marry has been the most common reason for
childlessness. Lack of partner also remains one of the major reasons for contemporary
childlessness (Berrington 2004; Szalma & Takács 2012). In today’s Europe, single women are
the most likely to be childless while married women are least likely to be childless (see e.g.
Portanti & Withworth 2009; Tanturri 2009). However the link is expected to weaken as
cohabitation and out-of-wedlock fertility is becoming more and more common everywhere.
Nevertheless, contemporary childlessness is occurring increasingly often among healthy and
sexually active women who are married or cohabiting (Coleman, 1996). Here, we study
associations between childlessness and proportions of ever-married at age 35-39 years.
2.2. Later parenthood
The age at first birth, or transition to parenthood, has been increasing throughout Europe in
the last decades, and will exceed 30 in several countries and subpopulations (e.g. Goldstein
2006; Testa 2006). In some cases postponement of parenthood is directly related to a delay in
the union formation per se, but in others to a prolonged period of childlessness after union
formation. Delayed parenthood may lead to lower overall fertility and also to childlessness
(Nicoletti & Tanturri, 2008), so that one can expect mean age of first birth to be positively
associated with cohort childlessness.
2.3. Higher divorce rates and union dissolution risks
Divorce levels have been rising in most European countries. Cohabitation has become an
increasingly popular type of union, and cohabiting unions are known to dissolve more often
than marital unions do. Also childlessness is more common in cohabiting unions (Baizàn et al.
2003; Spéder & Kapitàny 2009). The consequences of increasing fragility of both cohabiting
and marital unions on fertility patterns in general have not been much explored, and data on
5
dissolved cohabitations is especially hard to find. Existing studies indicate that stepfamilies
compensate for births lost to some degree when prior unions dissolve (Meggiolaro & Ongaro
2010; Van Bavel et al. 2012). The impact of divorce on childlessness has been surprisingly
little explored yet. We assume that union dynamics contribute to the postponement of first
births and may also be linked with eventual childlessness.
2.4. Material resources and social status
The effect of material resources on childbearing varies with the stage of the demographic
transition of the society in question. In poor and preindustrial environments, having access to
more resources and wealth is generally related to earlier and higher fertility. In highly
developed societies and low fertility societies, this association is typically reversed and
wealthier families tend to have fewer children. However, the negative association between
wealth and fertility may currently be reversed in some countries (e.g. Kravdal & Rindfuss
2008). It does typically not hold for men. Higher male education is usually related to lower
childlessness, while the opposite is true for women (Gonzáles & Jurado-Guerrero 2006;
Andersson et al 2009; Fieder et al 2011; Barthold et al. 2012). In some countries childlessness
is also high among little educated women (Miettinen 2010). Some studies suggest that these
patterns may be weakening or even reversing for women (Persson 2010; Andersson et al
2009). Here, we explore associations between childlessness and male and female education.
2.5. Women’s social position
Women’s increased economic independency and educational attainment has increased the
similarity in gender roles and expectations for men and women. The relationship between
fertility and gender equality remains unclear, however. On the one hand, higher female
education has been found to relate to higher childlessness both within and between countries.
For instance, Nicoletti & Tanturri (2008) found that higher female education increased
postponement of the first birth and, especially after age 30, childlessness, in ten European
countries. On the other hand, more egalitarian gender relations and gender equity in the public
sphere appear to increase fertility, as suggested by findings from the Nordic countries. For
example, Persson (2010) found signs of a remarkable fertility recuperation, due much to
women with high levels of education becoming mothers later in life. Here, we explore
associations between childlessness and proportions of educated women and working women
in a society.
6
2.6. Individualisation and value liberalism
Processes of value liberalisation and individualisation affect family formation. In liberal and
tolerant societies, women and men decide whether they opt for parenthood or not according to
their own preferences largely. Although second demographic transition theory makes no
specific predictions regarding childlessness, childbearing is predicted to be more affected by
individual preferences and choices instead of social and marital institutions (van de Kaa
2007). Previous empirical studies have partly found evidence for the role of value changes in
the increasing rate of childlessness: “family values” seemed to be more important for people
having children than for the intentionally childless but this difference disappeared when
comparing the value preferences of people who had had children to those of the temporarily
childless (Keizer 2010).
Preference theory (e.g. Hakim 2002; Hakim 2005) predicts that in societies with wider
female choice, more career-oriented women would choose careers over children. Hakim
predicted that among women who prioritize working careers over family life, a high
proportion would remain childless by choice, and additionally some working women would
do so for more circumstantial reasons. However, Hakim’s (2005) research found that although
a higher proportion of professional women remain childless, childless women were not
especially “career-oriented” and most of them are in low or middle grade occupations.
3. Materials and methods
3.1. Defining and measuring childlessness
We understand childlessness as the absence of biological or adopted children in an
individual’s life. With the postponement of age at first birth, most adults in contemporary
Europe are nowadays childless for at least one decade. Lifetime childlessness or permanent
childlessness means that an individual has not had children by the end of their reproductive
life, which for women is around 50 years and for men has no clear upper limit. Actually,
today very few European men or women become parents after reaching 45 years or even after
turning 40 years (Billari et al. 2007). Thus we also use 40-45 years as an estimate of lifetime
childlessness.
This definition follows the standards of our data sources although if obviously excludes
many forms of parenthood. Childless people may have acted as parents to children not
7
included here, for example, as foster parents and parents taking care of their partner’s
children.
Individuals who will eventually remain childless have usually had around 30 years of
potential childbearing. Reasons for childlessness include psychological, structural, medical,
ideological or circumstantial factors. It is rarely known at exactly which age these various
factors shape intentions, health and behaviour in order to either encourage or suppress
childbearing. Here, we will study country differences in the final levels of childlessness,
which are known only when individuals have reached 40 or 50 years, with retrospective
cohort data.
Additionally, we also explore ideals and intentions with regards to childlessness.
Fertility intentions can be assumed to be especially influential among people in their 20s and
early 30s, and may partially predict future levels of childlessness. They also set the scope for
policy goals: if all childlessness would be desired, there is no problem needing intervention.
Childlessness can result from different factors (Graham et al. 2013). One can
distinguish between involuntary childlessness (e.g. infertility), intended childlessness (those
who do not intend to have children), voluntary childlessness (the “childfree”), and temporary
childlessness related to circumstantial or delayed childbearing, which is neither voluntary nor
involuntary (Graham et al. 2013). In practice, however, the distinction is complicated.
Circumstantial childlessness may be related to factors such as a lack of a suitable partner
over which individuals may have little discretion, thus blurring the distinction between
involuntary and voluntary childlessness. Many women delay pregnancy to the point that it
becomes unlikely or impossible, in which case voluntary postponement is transformed into
involuntary childlessness (Rowland 1998). This highlights the importance of the temporal
dimension in this type of study and the useful distinction between temporary (a status that can
change) and permanent childlessness (Bloom and Pebley 1982). The same childless
individual can experience several of these stages during his or her life. Similarly, the
boundary between choice and constraint may be indistinct in many cases. For instance, failure
to form a union may depend on choice (women may have lower preferences for family life) or
on circumstances (inability to find a suitable partner) or a combination of both (Tanturri and
Mencarini 2008).
Measuring voluntary childlessness is tricky. Respondents who in surveys report that
they do not intend to have any children may do so for very different reasons: medical reasons,
the lack of a proper partner and/or economic resources, or choosing a childfree lifestyle. Here,
we define as intentionally childless adult respondents who do not have and do not intend to
8
have any children, and as voluntarily childless (or “childfree”) those among the intentionally
childless who report zero children as their personal fertility ideal.
3.1.1. Gender differences in childlessness
Male childlessness is usually higher than female childlessness, which can be attributed to
three reasons. First, men can have children later in life, while most fertility data covers only
ages up to 49 years. However, very few men, approximately 1-3 percentages at most, do
become fathers at older ages in contemporary Europe. This is because most men have female
partners who are not much younger than they are themselves.
Second, not all men know they have become fathers or are registered in data sources as
fathers (while other men may not actually be the biological fathers of their children although
registered as such). Both these types of fathers also constitute a very small minority. For
instance, mothers who give birth without registering any father constitute around two percent
in contemporary Finland. Mistakenly attributed biological paternity has been estimated to
represent around 3 percent in contemporary Western populations (Andersson 2000). Together,
these two effects of unknown or mistaken paternity may be assumed to cancel each other out.
Third, men have higher variance in fertility compared to females in most known human
societies (reviewed in Betzig 2012). Childlessness is more common among men, but at the
same time men oftenhave higher multipartner fertility compared to women (Lappegård &
Ronsen 2013).
3.2. Data sources used
3.2.1. Data on male and female cohort childlessness
Analyses include data on cohort childlessness from all European countries for which we could
find data. Additionally we include data from the United States and Australia. The data was
compiled from available registers and surveys as listed in Appendix Table 1. If no other
reliable sources were available, we used the Gender and Generations Survey Wave I. GGS
data was also used to study associations between education and childlessness for men and
women.
9
3.2.2. Data on macro-level indicators
Macro-level indicators studied include data on marital rates and age at first marriage, total
divorce rate and age at first birth. We also collected data on female educational attainment,
labour force participation rate, and female and male unemployment. Data on value change
include attitudes towards children in marriage, and how important it is seen for a woman to
have children, and Inglehart’s post-materialism index (asking respondents to name which they
think are the first and second most important aims of the respondents country: maintaining
order in the nation; giving people more say in important government decisions; fighting rising
prices; protecting freedom of speech).
3.2.3. Eurobarometer data on fertility intentions
To study intended childlessness, we use the family planning module of Eurobarometer survey
that was collected in 2011. Relevant questions related to the actual number of children, the
personal ideal number of children (For you personally, what would be the ideal number of
children you would like to have or would have liked to have had?), and the intended number
of children (How many (more) children do you intend to have?). We included respondents’
education level (primary, secondary and higher education) and occupational status (self-
employed-managerial-white collar, employee-manual worker-not working) as indicators of
social status in the analysis.
4. Trends in female and male childlessness
First, we study changes in proportions of childless individuals across birth cohorts in different
European countries and in the United States and Australia.
4.1. Changes in female cohort childlessness
Cohort childlessness has been increasing throughout Europe (see Appendix Tables 2a-b for all
and most recent female birth cohorts). There is also clear regional variation. Figures 1a-g
illustrate these changes by geographical regions.
10
Figure 1a-g: Proportions of childlessness in different European regions, women born around
19351970.
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940
1945
1950
1955
1960
1965
-1924
-1929
-1934
-1939
-1944
-1949
-1954
-1959
-1964
-1969
%
Southern Europe
Greece
Italy
Spain
Portugal
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940
1945
1950
1955
1960
1965
-1924
-1929
-1934
-1939
-1944
-1949
-1954
-1959
-1964
-1969
%
Central-Eastern Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R.
Hungary
Macedonia
Poland
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
11
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940
1945
1950
1955
1960
1965
-1924
-1929
-1934
-1939
-1944
-1949
-1954
-1959
-1964
-1969
%
Eastern Europe and Baltic countries
Georgia
Russia
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940
1945
1950
1955
1960
1965
-1924
-1929
-1934
-1939
-1944
-1949
-1954
-1959
-1964
-1969
%
Central Europe
Germany-T
Germany-W
Germany-E
Austria
Switzerland
12
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940
1945
1950
1955
1960
1965
-1924
-1929
-1934
-1939
-1944
-1949
-1954
-1959
-1964
-1969
%
Western Europe
Belgium
France
Ireland
Netherlands
UK (England & Wales)
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940
1945
1950
1955
1960
1965
-1924
-1929
-1934
-1939
-1944
-1949
-1954
-1959
-1964
-1969
%
Nordic countries
Denmark
Finland
Norway
Sweden
13
The female cohort born in Europe right after the war, in 1945 to 1949, has the lowest
proportion of childless women, around 810 per cent. There are more childless women both
in older and younger birth cohorts: typically around 16 % but sometimes even around 20 %.
In the USA and Australia childlessness was as its lowest (6 and 9 %, respectively) in the
cohorts born in 1930s. In the Eastern European socialist countries (and in Greece) the lowest
proportion of childless was attained for the cohort born in the 1950s and is as low as around
six per cent.
In recent female birth cohorts, levels of childlessness are still very low (below or at 10%)
in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and
Russia. With the exception of Portugal, all of these countries were part of the state socialist
block until the early 1990s. Levels are moderate (between 11 and 15%) in France, Belgium,
Georgia, Germany, Norway, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, and the US, and high (around
20%) in Austria, Italy, Finland, the Netherlands and the UK. (Figure 1a-g)
4.2. Changes in female childlessness 19902010
Changes in the proportion of childless women among recent cohorts are illustrated by
comparing the proportions of childless women at ages 4044 in 1990 (for two countries 1980)
and 2010 (for some countries 2000; see Appendix Tables 2a-b).
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940
1945
1950
1955
1960
1965
-1924
-1929
-1934
-1939
-1944
-1949
-1954
-1959
-1964
-1969
%
US and Australia
US
Australia
14
Figure 2: Proportion of childless women at age 4044, around 1990 and 2000/2010
Data are for 2010 except for 2000 for Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Greece, the Netherlands, Russia and Latvia; and for 1990 except for 1980 for Austria and Australia.
Childlessness among women born 194549 (who were 4044 years old in 1990) is
usually lower than among women born in 195559 or 196569 (who were 4044 years old in
2000 or 2010). During the last two decades, childlessness has increased in most countries
depicted here.
Figure 3 illustrates the change in the proportions of childless women. The increase from
1990 until 2010 has been greatest in Italy and Australia, as well as in Austria, Finland and the
UK. In contrast, in many eastern European countries, childlessness decreased from 1990 to
2000 although the initial proportion in these countries was very low. However, during the last
decade, from 2000 to 2010, childlessness started to increase again, the increase being the
greatest in Estonia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, countries with low
childlessness in the older cohort. Of countries with initially higher childlessness, the recent
increase has been strongest especially in the UK, Finland, Austria and Australia between 2000
and 2010. Interestingly, in both Sweden and Denmark the proportions of childless women
have slightly declined during the last decade.
0
5
10
15
20
25
Russia
Macedonia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Czech R
Latvia
Lithuania
Serbia and…
Croatia
Poland
Estonia
Romania
Denmark
Bulgaria
France
Hungary
Norway
Greece
Portugal
Georgia
Sweden
Belgium
Germany-T
Australia
Netherlands
UK
Ireland
Austria
Finland
Italy
Swizerland
Canada
US
%
Proportion of childless women at age 40-44, around 1990 and
2000/2010
1990
2000/2010
15
Figure 3: Changes in proportions of childless women at age 40-44 years
4.3. Childless women at 30-34 years
Next, we present the proportions of younger women who have not yet have children. As
Figure 4 shows, these have increased in all countries studied here without exception. While
this is indicative of postponement of parenthood and not necessarily of lifetime childlessness,
the early 30s remain the prime time for childbearing among European women, and a higher
proportion of childlessness at that age can be assumed to predict higher overall lifetime
childlessness and lower fertility overall in this age cohort.
-4 -2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R
Hungary
Romania
Serbia and..
Slovenia
Italy
Austria
UK
Russia
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Denmark
Finland
Norway
Sweden
Australia
Switzerland
Change: percentage points
Changes in proportions of childless women at age 40-44 years
2000 compared to 1990
2010 compared to 2000
2010 compared to 1990
16
Figure 4: Proportions of childless women at 30-34 years, selected countries
Note. Australia and Austria have data from 1980 not 1990. Russia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia,
Serbia and Montenegro, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy have data from 2000, not 2010.
4.4. Male childlessness
For men, much less data are available than for women. Appendix Tables 3a show compiled
available data for men who have completed their childbearing (aged 50-55 years) and
Appendix Table 3c shows estimates for more recent male cohorts. For most European
countries the best available comparative data are from the Gender and Generation Surveys
(Appendix Table 3b). However, these data are based on relatively small samples and are thus
not necessarily very accurate.
Figure 5 shows the proportions of childless men in three age groups in contemporary
Europe, as measured by the Gender and Generations Survey and Nordic register data.
Among men in their early thirties Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria have the
highest proportion of childlessness at around 60 % or more, and Romania, France, Poland,
Lithuania and Russia have the lowest, below 40 %. For men who are ten years older and in
their early forties, the country order is somewhat different: the Netherlands, Germany,
Finland, the Czech Republic and Italy have proportions above 25 %. When we look at the
closest proxy for lifetime childlessness, the age group 4549 (male cohorts born around 1956-
-5
0
5
10
15
20
25
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
Russia
Slovakia
Latvia
Macedonia
Lithuania
Georgia
Romania
Slovenia
Poland
Croatia
Serbia and..
Estonia
Bulgaria
Czech R
Belgium
France
Norway
UK
Greece
Switzerland
Germany-T
Sweden
Hungary
Finland
Australia
Austria
Netherlands
Italy
Ireland
Portugal
Denmark
Canada
US
Change, percentage points
% childless
Proportions of childless women at age 30-34 around 1990 and
2000/2010, and changes in the proportions
1990
2000 or 2010
change 2000 to 2010
change 1990 to 2000
17
65), in the top are Finland, Italy, Germany, the UK and the Czech Republic with around one
out of four men remaining childless, while Estonia, Russia and Georgia have only one in ten
childless men. It would be interesting to know if men are exhibiting more of a postponement
behaviour in countries such as the Netherlands and Austria, or whether these countries are
experiencing a cohort change so that significantly more men will end up childless compared
to slightly older cohorts.
Figure 5: Proportions of childless men at ages 30-34, 40-44, and 45-49 years around
2005/2010.
Data source: GGS (2003-2010) except Understanding Society Survey 2009-12 for the UK, and national register
data for Finland, Norway and Sweden, Swiss Household Panel 2010 for Switzerland.
Of the countries studied here, Georgia is also the only one where male childlessness is
not higher than female childlessness (Figure 6). The ratio between proportions of childless
men and women ranges from 0.86 in Georgia to 2.24 in the Czech Republic and is on average
1.56.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Russia
Romania
Lithuania
Georgia
Poland
France
Estonia
Bulgaria
Hungary
Belgium
Norway
Swizerland
Czech R
UK
Sweden
Finland
Austria
Germany-T
Netherlands
Italy
%
Childless men at ages 30-34, 40-44, and 45-49 years around 2005/2010
30-34 years
40-44 years
45-49 years
18
Figure 6: Proportions and ratio of childless men and women aged 4549 in 2000/2010
Data source: GGS/Register data; SHP for Switzerland.
Note: For women the estimations of childless individuals differ from other cohort data for this age group with
regards to the Czech Republic and Estonia.
4.5. Educational differences in childlessness
For estimating educational differences in childlessness in various countries, we use data from
Gender and Generations Survey in 2005-2010. Data in Figures 7 and 8 thus refers to male and
female cohorts born around 1960-1970.
In most countries, higher female education is still related to childlessness (Figure 7).
However, the educational gradient appears to be weak in some of them, including Belgium,
Estonia and Norway. In three countries (Finland, Hungary, and Russia), women with only a
basic level education show the highest childlessness rates. In many countries, the lowest
proportions of childlessness are found among women with a medium-level education. Such a
U-shaped pattern of female childlessness can be found in Czech R, Estonia, Finland, Georgia,
Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania.
For men, the association between educational level and childlessness has not changed
much in recent cohorts (Figure 8). Less-educated men have the highest rates of childlessness
in 13 of 19 countries.
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Sex ratio
%
Proportions and ratio of childless men and women aged 45-49 in 2000/2010
Men
Women
Sex ratio
19
Figure 7. Childlessness at age 40-44 by educational attainment, women around 2005-2010
For six countries (Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the UK),
childlessness rates are highest among highly educated men. Since more men than women will
still become parents after the age of 40, postponement of parenthood is likely to alter male
childlessness more than female in these age groups. Postponement is also likely to affect
highly educated men more than other groups. Thus for Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and
the UK, as well as for the two countries (Estonia and Georgia) in which men with a median
level of education have the lowest levels of childlessness, childlessness among more educated
men may yet decrease somewhat from what is depicted in Figure 8.
In sum, higher childlessness is usually more common among highly educated women
and less educated men, but with a certain degree of variability between countries. In some
western European countries these associations may be weakening or disappearing.
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
%
Childlessness and educational level, women aged 40-44
ISCED 0-2
ISCED 3-4
ISCED 5-6
20
Figure 8. Childlessness at age 40-44 by educational attainment, men around 2005-2010
5. Associations between country indicators and childlessness
After presenting descriptive cohort trends for men and women, we now analyse how these
trends relate to other country-level macro-indicators. We mostly analyse relationships with
macro indicators for two female cohorts: the older cohort, born in 194044, and the younger
cohort, born in 196069. Sometimes we also present results for the middle, 195054 birth
cohort.
Table 1 depicts linear OLS regression coefficients for our chosen indicators and two
different cohorts of female childlessness. Statistically significant associations are marked in
bold. The strongest of statistically significant associations are found between cohort fertility
rates and mean ages at first birth and at first marriage.
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
%
Childlessness and educational level, men aged 40-44
ISCED 0-2
ISCED 3-4
ISCED 5-6
21
Table 1: Associations with cohort childlessness and various demographic indicators,
regression coefficients (N=23).
Cohort 1940-44
Cohort 1960-69
Demographic indicators
Cohort fertility rate
3.92 /-0.56*
-1.88 / -7.57*
Mean age at first birth
1.93
1.53
Ever-married at 35-39
-0.355
-0.22
Mean age at first marriage
2.18
1.30
Total divorce rate
-3.61
4.73
Women's social position
Tertiary education, Females
0.04
0.11
Female employment
-0.07
-0.14
Values
Post-materialist values %
0.14
0.39
Children important for
marriage
-0.13
-0.14
Children important for a
woman
-0.03
-0.11
Statistically significant associations (p<0.05) marked in bold. *= excluding Ireland.
Country-specific data for these macro indicators is featured in Appendix Table 4a-d.
Below, we provide some more detailed analyses.
5.1. Fertility indicators
First, we look at associations with fertility indicators and cohort childlessness on a country
level.
5.1.1. Mean age at first birth and childlessness
Mean age at first birth is related to cohort childlessness in both the older (1.93, p=0.001) and
younger birth cohorts (Table 1). The association is only slightly weaker (1.54, p=0.000) in the
younger cohorts (Figures 9a-b).
22
Figure 9a: Mean age at first birth (1970) and childlessness in female cohorts born 1940-44.
Figure 9b: Mean age at first birth (1990) and childlessness in female cohorts born 1960-69.
In both female age cohorts, low ages at first birth and low levels of female childlessness
are found in the former socialist Eastern or Central European countries. A delayed entry into
motherhood and high prevalence of childlessness is common in Italy, the UK, Finland, Ireland
and the Netherlands. Moderate levels of childlessness (between 10 and 15%) are found in
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-W
Germany-E
Hungary
Italy
Netherlands
Poland
Romania
Slovak R. Slovenia
Sweden
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Mean age at first birth 1970
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
RomaniaRussia
Slovak R. Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
US
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Mean age at first birth 1990
Linear fit Childless women 1960-69
23
countries with very different ages of becoming a mother for the first time, ranging from 22-23
years in e.g. Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary to 26-27 years in e.g. Denmark, Spain and
France.
5.1.2. Cohort fertility and childlessness
For the associations with cohort fertility and childlessness, we present Figures for all three
female cohorts.
The associations with completed cohort fertility and childlessness are strong and,
surprisingly, positive in the older cohort (see Table 1 above). However, this association is
driven by Ireland, a country with both high fertility and high childlessness. Once Ireland is
removed as an outlier, the association is negative and not statistically significant (-0.56,
p=0.82), as shown in Figure 10a.
Figure 10a. Completed cohort fertility and childlessness in female cohorts born in 1940-44.
The negative association between cohort fertility and childlessness is even stronger and
statistically significant (-8.79, p=0.025) in the ten years younger birth cohort born in 1950-54
(after again excluding Ireland as an outlier, Figure 10b). This may reflect the fact that as
fertility drops, the relative impact of childlessness on cohort fertility rates increases.
In the youngest birth cohort, the association is weaker (-7.57, p=0.14) (Figure 10c).
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R.
Denmark
Finland
France
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Romania
Russia Slovak R.
Slovenia Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
1.5 2 2.5 3
Completed cohort fertility 1940-44
Linear fit, excl. Ireland Linear fit, incl. Ireland
Childless women 1940-44
24
In sum, cohort fertility and childlessness remain negatively associated on a country
level, contrary to many assumptions in the previous literature, and this association is the
strongest for women born in the 1950s.
Figure 10b. Completed cohort fertility and childlessness in female cohorts born in 1950-54
Figure 10c. Completed cohort fertility and childlessness in female cohorts born in 1960-64.
5.2. Partnership formation and childlessness
In this section we analyse associations between marital indicators and childlessness. As
described in the Data section above, we assume that the country trends for lifetime
childlessness happen at certain periods in the adult woman’s life, often well before her forties.
We expect that cultural and societal environment in early adulthood has more bearing on
individual childbearing decisions, and consequently macro-level indicators are chosen from
periods when the studied women were in their thirties.
5.2.1. Proportions of ever married and childless
Figures 11a and 11b show the associations between proportions of ever-married women at
age 3539 and female childlessness in the youngest and oldest birth cohorts, born in 194044
and in 196069.
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Romania
Russia
Slovak R.
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
Latvia
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
1.5 2 2.5 3
Completed cohort fertility 1950-54
Linear fit, excl. Ireland Linear fit, incl. Ireland
Childless women 1950-54
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Norway
Poland
Romania
Slovak R.
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
1.5 2 2.5 3
Completed cohort fertility 1960-64
Linear fit, excl. Ireland Linear fit, incl. Ireland
Childless women 1960-64
25
For the older cohort, the regression coefficient is -0.36 (p=0.06) and for the younger it is -0.21
and statistically significant (p=0.047). In contrast to many assumptions, the association
between being married and childlessness is not disappearing in this data set.
Figure 11a: Childlessness in female cohort 194044 and proportion of ever-married women
aged 3539 in 1980
Figure 11b: Childlessness in female cohort 196069 and proportion of ever-married women
aged 3539 in 2000
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Greece
Hungary
Italy Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Romania
Russia
Slovak R.
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
US
Australia
Ireland
Latvia
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
80 85 90 95 100
Ever-married women aged 35-39 1980
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
RomaniaRussia
Slovak R.
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
US
Australia
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
Ever-married women aged 35-39 2000
Linear fit Childless women 1960-69
26
In the older cohort Ireland, and in the younger cohort Italy and the UK have relatively
high proportions of ever married women and high proportions of childless women. This
indicates that childlessness within unions is frequent in these countries. The low proportions
of ever married in especially Sweden and Denmark represent the earlier spread of
cohabitation as an alternative to marriage in these countries. Unfortunately we lack systematic
data on ever cohabiting Europeans.
5.2.2. Age at first marriage and childlessness
Age at first marriage is strongly and statistically significantly associated (2.18, p<0.001) with
childlessness in the older cohort: the younger age at marriage, the fewer childless individuals.
In the younger cohort, the association is still strong and statistically significant (1.30, p=0.01),
but somewhat attenuated (Figures 12a-b). Thus, despite the spread of cohabitation, marriage
remains related to childbearing also among young Europeans. A later average age at marriage
increases childlessness on a country level.
Figure 12a: Age at first marriage (in 1970) and childlessness in female cohorts born in 1940
44.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-W
Germany-E Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Romania
Russia
Slovak R. Slovenia
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Mean age at first marriage 1970
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
27
Figure 12b. Age at first marriage (in 1990) and childlessness in female cohorts born in 1960
69.
The formerly socialist Eastern and Central European countries are the ones with lowest
age at marriage and also lowest childlessness. This remains true also for the youngest
generation, born in the 1960s, and in its twenties during the transition to post-socialism in the
1980s.
The Scandinavian countries exhibit high ages at first marriage but relatively low
childlessness. These marriages, however, would typically have been preceded by
cohabitation.
5.2.3. Divorce rates and childlessness
Finally, we study in this section the associations between divorce rates and childlessness. The
associations are not statistically significant in either cohort (see Table 1 above, Figures 13a-
b). It is still interesting to note that the trend may be switching from slightly negative to
slightly positive between the two age cohorts. This is driven by the fact that divorce rates
were high in the older cohorts in some socialist countries (Russia, Latvia) with low
childlessness, but low in Southern and Central European countries. In the younger
generations, divorce rates have become high in most countries with the exception of the
Catholic Southern and Central European. Italy represents an exception with its high
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
RomaniaRussia
Slovak R. Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Mean age at first marriage 1990
Linear fit Childless women 1960-69
28
childlessness and low divorce rate. However, these associations do not become significant
even after removing Italy (9.95, p=0.12).
Figure 13a: Total divorce rate (1970) and childlessness in female cohorts born in 194044.
Figure 13b: Total divorce rate (1990) and childlessness in female cohorts born in 196069.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R.
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany-W
Germany-E
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Romania
Russia
Slovenia
Sweden Latvia
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
0.1 .2 .3 .4 .5
Total divorce rate 1970
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal Romania Russia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
0.1 .2 .3 .4 .5
Total divorce rate 1990
Linear fit Childless women 1960-69
29
5.3. Women’s social positions
Next, we analyse how some indicators of increasing gender equity and women’s social
position relate to childlessness across cohorts.
5.3.1. Female education and childlessness
First, we explore whether countries with higher proportions of educated women also have
more childless women (Figures 14a-b). The associations with womens education and
childlessness are small and not statistically significant (0.04 and p=0.69 in older cohort, 0.14
and p=0.08 in younger cohort). There is, however, a slightly positive association in the
youngest cohort, so that an increase in women with tertiary level education is associated with
higher rates of childlessness.
Figure 14a. Childlessness in female cohort 194044 and proportion of women (birth cohort
194150) with tertiary level education
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Greece
Hungary
Italy Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Romania
Slovak R.
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
Latvia
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
010 20 30 40 50 60
Women with tertiary education (1941-50)
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
30
Figure 14b. Childlessness in female cohort 196069 and proportion of women (birth cohort
196170) with tertiary level education
5.3.2. Female employment and childlessness
Next, we explore whether proportions of women in wage work are associated with
proportions of childless women. Employment activity among 2549-yrs old women (in 1970
and 1990) and childlessness in female cohorts born in 194044 and 196069 are negatively
related: the higher the proportion of female employment, the lower levels of childlessness in a
country. This association is stronger and also statistically significant in the older cohort
(regression coefficients are -0.07 (p=0.02) and -0.01 (p=0.93), respectively) (Figures 15a-b).
As was the case for marital indicators, this association is driven by the former socialist
Central and European countries. In the younger cohort, also high fertility and low
childlessness countries, such as e.g. France and the Scandinavian countries, illustrate that high
female employment and low childlessness can be combined.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovak R. Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
010 20 30 40 50 60
Women with tertiary education (1961-70)
Linear fit Childless women 1960-69
31
Figure 15a: Childlessness in female cohort 194044 and labour force participation rate
among 2549-year-old women in 1970
Figure 15b: Childlessness in female cohort 196069 and labour force participation rate
among 2549-year-old women in 1990
To sum up this section, the advancement of gender equity and women’s social position
is not, or is slightly negatively, correlated with higher childlessness.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Finland
France Germany-E
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Russia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
US
Australia
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
020 40 60 80 100
Female labour force participation 1970
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal RomaniaRussia
Slovak R.
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
US
Australia
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
020 40 60 80 100
Female labour force participation 1990
Linear fit Childless women 1960-69
32
5.4. Values and childlessness
In the last section of macro-level analysis, we analyse associations between values and
childlessness levels in different countries.
5.4.1. Post-materialist values
So-called post-materialist values reflect the attitude of respondents to order and authority, but
are not directly related to family life or childbearing. Figures 16a-b show the percentage of
respondents holding post-materialist values in the European Values Survey and childlessness
in female cohorts born in 194044 and 196069. The strong and significant association in the
older cohort (0.14, p=0.032) is further strengthened in the younger cohort (0.35, p=0.003).
However, it is interesting to note that the post-materialism scores are overall higher in the
older cohorts compared to the younger cohorts, so that overall support for these measures
appears to have declined.
These associations do not remain significant if entering other marital and fertility-
related factors into the regression (results not shown).
Figure 16a: Childlessness in female cohort 194044 and post-materialist index in 1990
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Romania
Slovak R.
Slovenia Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
US
Ireland
Latvia
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
010 20 30 40
Post-materialist index 1990
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
33
Figure 16b: Childlessness in female cohort 196069 and post-materialist index in 2010
5.4.2. Importance of children in marriage
We then explored associations between proportions of childless women and directly family-
related values (Figures 17a-b). We use the reported importance of children for a marriage (%
of respondents agreeing with the statement) and the view that a woman needs to have a child
to be fulfilled, again for female cohorts born in 194044 and 196069. Since the former
variable had stronger results across cohorts and is correlated with the latter, we report only the
first, agreeing that children are important for marriage, here.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
RomaniaRussia
Slovak R. Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
010 20 30 40
Post-materialist index 2010
Linear fit Childless women 1960-69
34
Figure 17a: Childlessness in female cohort 194044 and agreeing that children are important
for a marriage in 1990
In the older cohort, valuing children in marriage is frequent in the former socialist
countries (Figure 15a). In the younger, however, the country order has partly changed, and we
find a group of countries Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, and Austria with
high childlessness and not very strong support for this value. Of these, Finland, the
Netherlands and Austria also scored high on the post-materialism index as reported above.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Romania
Slovak R.
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
US
Ireland
Latvia
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Importance of children in marriage 1990
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
35
Figure 17b: Childlessness in female cohort 196069 and agreeing in that children are
important for a marriage in 2010
In sum, value factors exhibit a strong and statistically significant association with
childlessness for the measures studied here. This is true both regarding indirect measures of
individualization of family life (such as the post-materialism index) and direct measures of
the importance of having children for marital and personal life.
6. Intended and voluntary childlessness
To study intended and voluntary childlessness, we use the family planning module of the
Eurobarometer carried out in 2011. We create three main groups based on whether the
outcome is intended and/or desired. By unintended childlessness, we mean persons who are
childless but intend to have children. Respondents who do not have children and do not intend
to have children (but whose personal ideal may or may not be zero children) represent
intended childlessness. Respondents who do not have children, do not intend to have children,
and whose personal ideal number of children is zero represent voluntarily childlessness (or
“childfree”).
The numbers of both intended and especially voluntarily childfree respondents is low in
each country so we have to be cautious with our results. Due to the small sample sizes we
analyse educational or occupational gradients in intentional childlessness only for
Eurobarometer countries in total and not separately by countries.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany-T
Greece
Hungary
Italy
Lithuania
Macedonia
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal RomaniaRussia
Slovak R.
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK (England & Wales)
Ireland
5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Childless %
30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Importance of children in marriage 2010
Linear fit Childless women 1940-44
36
There are also “reluctant parents”, or people who state that their ideal number of
children is zero, although they have already had children. Their proportion is very low, less
than one per cent, and not further analysed here.
6.1. Intended childlessness
We first present how many people intend to remain childless. Among currently childless
Europeans, the great majority plan to become parents at some stage of their lives. In most
countries, close to 90 per cent of currently childless men and women aged 18-40 years intend
to have children sometimes in the future (Figure 18).
Figure 18: Intended childlessness among 18-40 year old men and women
Data source: Eurobarometer 2011, weighted values.
Intentional childlessness is very low in Eastern and Central Europe. Among Western
European countries, Cyprus, Ireland and France exhibit lower intended childlessness than
other countries (intended childlessness as a proportion of all men/women in age group 18-40
years). The proportions of persons not intending to have any children are the highest in
Germany, Spain, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands, where ten per cent or above of adults
aged 18 to 40 years do not intend to have children.
In most countries, men are less likely to intend becoming parents than women.
However, there are some countries where women are less likely to intend becoming parents
than men: these are Lithuania, Belgium, UK, and the Netherlands. Intentional childlessness
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
%
Intended childlessness among 18-40 year old men and women
Men -of all
Women -of all
Men -of childless
Women -of childless
37
among childless men exceeds 15 per cent in Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Austria
and the Netherlands, and among women, in Italy, UK, Spain and the Netherlands.
We also examined if country level childlessness affects educational differences in
intended childlessness. The assumption was that certain educational groups (e.g. the highly
educated) could “spearhead” intended childlessness in countries where it is relatively
uncommon compared to countries where it is more common. Based on the trends in
prevalence of childlessness presented above, we grouped countries into three: countries with
low levels of (female) cohort childlessness (<10%), middle level childlessness (10.114.0%),
and high childlessness (14.1+ %) (Figures 19a-b).
6.1.1. Intended childlessness by educational levels
Next, we studied whether levels of intended childlessness would vary with educational levels
between country groups. Results indicate no clear trends for women, except that as levels of
female childlessness increase, women with mid-level education are somewhat more likely to
intend to remain childless compared to women with low or high education. For men,
educational differences were strong in countries with high prevalence of childlessness, so that
highly educated men less often intended to remain childless.
Figure 19a: Intended childlessness among 1845 year old women by educational attainment
in three country groups
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
ISCED 0-2
ISCED 3-4
ISCED 5-6
%
Intended childlessness, Women 18-45 yrs
0-10%
10.1-14.0%
14.1-%
Female cohort
childlessness
38
Figure 19b: Intended childlessness among 1845 year old men
6.2. Proportions of childfree respondents
Next, we analyse how many of those who intend to remain childfree do so voluntarily,
measured as respondents declaring that their personal ideal is to not have any children (Figure
20). Voluntary childlessness (“childfree) is relatively rare in Europe, ranging from below one
per cent (in Bulgaria, Latvia and Slovakia) to around ten per cent (the Netherlands and
Austria) with an average of 3.2 % among 1840-year old men and women.
Voluntary childlessness is higher among men than among women in most of the
countries studied here. It is clearly higher for women compared to men only in Latvia,
Lithuania, Hungary, Greece and Germany, and slightly higher for women than for men in
Ireland and Denmark.
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
ISCED 0-2
ISCED 3-4
ISCED 5-6
%
Intended childlessness, Men 18-45 yrs
0-10%
10.1-14.0%
14.1-%
Female cohort
childlessness
39
Figure 20: Voluntary childlessness among 1840 year old men and women
Data source: Eurobarometer 2011
We then combined data for all countries and analysed how intended and voluntary
childlessness varied by educational level and occupational level (Table 3).
Table 3: Intended and voluntary childlessness (%) among men and women by educational
level and occupational status in 2011
Data source: Eurobarometer 2011
For men, both intended and voluntary childlessness appears inversely related to social
status. For women, both types of childlessness appear to be most common in the mid-ranges
of both educational and occupational classes.
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
Bulgaria
Latvia
Lithuania
Ireland
Czech R
Slovenia
Slovakia
Romania
France
Hungary
Portugal
Estonia
Cyprus
Denmark
Greece
Sweden
Poland
Italy
Spain
Germany-T
UK
Finland
Belgium
Austria
Netherlands
%
Voluntary childlessness among 18-40-year old men and women
MEN
WOMEN
MEN
WOMEN
Intended
childlessness
Voluntary
childlessness
Intended
childlessness
Voluntary
childlessness
Total
7.3
3.9
5.6
2.8
Educational level
Low (ISCED 0-2)
8.7
4.8
5.4
2.5
Middle (ISCED 3-4)
7.1
3.6
6.0
2.9
High (ISCED 5-6)
6.6
4.0
5.1
2.7
Occupational
status
Self-employed
4.4
3.1
5.9
3.7
Managerial
5.9
3.1
7.0
3.6
White collar
6.7
3.4
7.2
3.5
Manual
7.2
4.1
3.6
1.6
Not employed
9.3
4.6
5.6
2.9
40
6.2.1. Childfree Europeans by educational levels
We also examined if country level childlessness affects educational differences in voluntary
childlessness, as we did with proportions of intended childlessness above (Figures 21a-b).
Figures 21a-b: Childfree women (a) and men (b) by educational level (%)
Childfree men and women are more frequent in countries with overall high
childlessness. As was the case with intended childlessness, results indicate no clear trends of
women. Among men, childfree respondents appear most common among those with least
education in all three country groups.
7. Conclusions
Trends in European childlessness follow a U-shaped trend: after the low levels in mid-20th
century most countries have witnessed clear increases in the proportions of lifetime
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
ISCED 0-2
ISCED 3-4
ISCED 5-6
%
Voluntary childlessness, Women 18-45 yrs
0-10%
10.1-14.0%
14.1-%
Female cohort
childlessness
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
ISCED 0-2
ISCED 3-4
ISCED 5-6
%
Voluntary childlessness, Men 18-45 yrs
0-10%
10.1-14.0%
14.1-%
Female cohort
childlessness
41
childlessness. Marked country differences persist in the level and speed of change.
Interestingly, in five countries Denmark, Latvia, Russia, Slovenia and Sweden female
childlessness appears to have decreased during the last decades.
European countries fall into three groups: those with low, moderate and high levels of
childlessness. The scales for men and women are slightly different, due to both under-
reporting of paternity and to higher reproductive skew among males compared to females.
Low childlessness for women (below or at 10 %) is found in Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Russia, while male
childlessness is low (below or at 15%) in Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania and Russia.
Moderate levels of childlessness (between 11 and 15 %) are found among women in
France, Belgium, Georgia, Germany, Norway, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, and the
US. For men, moderate (15-20%) levels are reported in Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary,
the Netherlands, and Romania.
High childlessness is found among women (around 20%) is found in Austria, Italy,
Finland, the Netherlands and the UK. Among men, high levels (above 20%) prevail in the
Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the UK.
Men’s childlessness is typically more polarized than women’s is, so that a higher
proportion of men compared to women remain childless. Childlessness is also common both
among highly educated and little educated Europeans.
Overall, most of the increase in childlessness seems unwanted. Intentional and
particularly voluntary childlessness remains relatively rare throughout Europe, according to
the responses given by men and women aged 1840 in the Eurobarometer survey. There are
nevertheless clear country differences: rates of intended and voluntary childlessness are
somewhat higher among men than among women, and in the German-speaking countries and
the Netherlands compared to other European countries.
Somewhat surprisingly, childlessness remains strongly associated with traditional
fertility and marital indicators, also in the younger generations. In contrast to previous
assumptions, the negative association between cohort completed fertility and childlessness
has grown stronger over generations, suggesting that in some countries, childlessness is an
important component of low fertility.
In spite of marriage losing ground as an obligatory social institution all over Europe, the
proportions ever married in a population are negatively associated with lifetime female
childlessness also among the younger generations. Childlessness is also higher in countries
where the average mean age at marriage is high and entry into motherhood is delayed. It
42
appears as if difficulties in the transition to adulthood can transform a delay in parenthood
into definitive childlessness. Values related to individualisation and family norms are also
positively and statistically significantly associated with childlessness on a macro level: the
higher individualisation, the higher are childlessness rates. Unexpectedly, divorce rates were
not associated with childlessness, and associations with women’s social position were weak
or absent.
Childlessness in contemporary Europe should no longer be associated with the
stereotypical image of a highly-educated and career-oriented woman. Neither is childlessness
in any clear way associated with higher gender equity or the proportion of women in the
labour market. Although this study did not address unwanted childlessness as such, the very
low rates of voluntary or intended childlessness suggest that childlessness in young adults in
their late 30s or early 40s is to a large extend not wanted. Educational differences in
childlessness rates also indicate that unwanted childlessness may now be concentrating
among those who lack socioeconomic resources.
The rapidly increasing proportions of childless Europeans, who mostly would have
wished to become parents, pose a challenge for policy makers. Unwanted childlessness can
cause psychological distress and increase loneliness, affecting happiness and wellbeing. In the
long run, the growing proportions of childless persons will also bring extra challenges for
future ageing generations through the older people who will have no adult children or
grandchildren to assist and take care of them.
In the future, it would be important to collect fertility data by parities (including
childlessness) among women and men through Eurostat. This would enable scholars and
policy makers to follow trends in childlessness among the younger generations, to understand
how social and economic changes influence entry into parenthood, and to develop policies to
address involuntary childlessness. A systematic and continuing data collection can
significantly strengthen family and population policy planning.
43
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Appendix Tables
Appendix Table 1: Main data sources
Countries
Source
Bosnia and Hertzegovina
Croatia Denmark Germany-
E Greece Hungary Italy
Macedonia Norway
Romania Slovenia Spain
UK Yugoslavia (former)
(1) Frejka, T. & Sardon, JP. (2004), Childbearing trends
and prospects in low-fertility countries. European Studies
of Population Vol 13. Dordrecht (Net): EAPS & Kluwer
Publishers. (Table CO-11)
Bosnia and Hertzegovina
Croatia Denmark Germany-
E Greece Hungary Italy
Macedonia Norway
Romania Slovenia Spain
UK Yugoslavia (former)
(1) Frejka, T. (2008), Parity distribution and completed
family size in Europe: Incipient decline of the two-child
family model? Demographic Research 19(4): 47-72
(Figures 1-3 Proportions of women with 0, 1, 2, 3+
children; Table 2, Parity distribution (Special Collection 7:
Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe, Chapter 2,
with additional country studies)
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria
Czech R Finland France
Hungary Italy Ireland
Netherlands Norway
Romania Spain Sweden
Portugal Yugoslavia
(former)
(23) Prioux, F. (1993). L’infécondité en Europe (In:
European Population II Demographic Dynamics, eds.
Blum, A. & Rallu JL/INED).
Austria Denmark Finland
France Germany-W Poland
Romania Spain Sweden
(2) Sobotka, T. (2005, Draft), Childless societies? (Table 3)
UK
(5) Smallwood S. (2012), New estimates of trends in births
by birth order in England and Wales. Population Trends
108: 32-48
UK
(11) Cohort 1970-study. Data for 1970-cohort, wave 2012.
Available at UK Data Service
http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/series/?sn=200001
UK
(21) Understanding Society 2009-2012 Survey. Available
at: https://www.understandingsociety.ac.uk/; UK Data
Service http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/series
UK
(11) ONS Office for National Statistics. Statistical Bulletin:
Cohort Fertility 2012 (5.12.2013).
France
Toulemon, L. & Mazuy, M. (2001), Les naissances sont
retardées mais la fécondité est stable. Population 56(4):
611-644
France
(16) Toulemon, L. (1996), Very few couples remain
voluntarily childless, Population: An English Selection 8:
1-27: France.
France
(20) INSEE. Census 2011 (specific survey) Enquete
Famille et logements 2011. Dossier: Avez vous eu des
enfants? Si oui, combien? (France, portrait social, edition
2013).
Germany-W
(18) Kreyenfeld, M. (2002), Parity specific birth rates for
West Germany: An attempt to combine survey data and
vital statistics; Germany.
Germany-Total Germany-
W Germany-E
(17) Dorbritz J. & Schwarz, K. (1996), Kinderlosigkeit in
Deutshland ein Massenphänomen? Analysen zu
Erscheinungsformen und Ursachen. Zeitschrift für
Bevölkerungswissenschaft 21(3): 231-261.
47
Italy
(22) Italian Multipurpose Survey 2009
Australia Hungary Italy
Netherlands Portugal
Romania
(16) Rowland (2007), Historical trends in childlessness.
Journal of Family Issues 28: 1311-1337.
Sweden
(6) Statistics Sweden (2014), Fördelning av olika
generationer efter antal barn (http://www.scb.se/sv_/Hitta-
statistik/Statistik-efter-
amne/Befolkning/Befolkningsframskrivningar/Demografis
k-analys/55349/2012A01L/Barnafodande/Olika-
generationers-barnafodande/Fordelning-av-olika-
generationer-efter-antal-barn/) (as accessed in Jan 2014).
Sweden
(7) Statistics Sweden (2011), Demografiska rapporter
2011:3. Olika generationers barnafödande. Appendix
tables.
Sweden
(8) Statistics Sweden (2002), Demografiska rapporter
2002:5. Hur manga barn får jag när jag blir stor? Appendix
tables.
Switzerland
(24) Swiss Household Panel 2000; 2005 and 2010 (2012)
Available at FORS webpage: http://forscenter.ch/en/our-
surveys/swiss-household-panel/
Norway
(9) Statistics Norway (2014), Births, separate tables:
Barnetallfordeling, etter kvinnens alder og fødelseskull
[Number of children by age/birth cohort of women/men]
(table 05769) (https://www.ssb.no/statistikkbanken) (as
accessed in Jan 2014).
Norway
(10) Statistics Norway (2013), Births, separate tables:
Barnetallfordeling, etter kvinnens alder og fødelseskull
[Number of children by age/birth cohort of women/men]
(table 07870) (www.ssb.no/statistikkbanken) (accessed Jan
2014).
Denmark
(12) Statistics Denmark (2014), Andel barnløse kvinder i
generationerne fra 1945 og frem efter alder (table FOD12)
[Number of childless women born after 1944 by age per
1000 women]
(http://www.statistikbanken.dk/statbank5a/default.asp?w=1
280) (accessed Jan 2014).
Finland
(13) Fougstedt (1977), Population census 1970 (Statistics
Finland), Results of a Fertility Survey among women (a
sample of women drawn from the households in the
population census). SVT VI C:104, vol. XV, Table 7a; B.8.
Finland
(14) Statistics Finland (1989-2012), Population Structure
1989-2012 (women/men by number of children and age
reached during the year).
Online databases
Bulgaria Czech R Estonia
Hungary Lithuania
Netherlands Portugal
Russia Slovakia US
(3) (3x) (4) Human Fertility Database (Jan 2014).
Available at: http://www.humanfertility.org/cgi-
bin/main.php
Austria Belgium Bulgaria
Estonia France Georgia
Germany Hungary Italy
Lithuania Netherlands
Norway Poland Romania
Russia
(15) Generations and Gender Survey, Wave I. Generations
& Gender Programme: Survey Instruments. New York and
Geneva: UN, 2005.
Available at: http://www.ggp-i.org/data/data-access.html
Australia Bulgaria Croatia
Czech R Estonia Hungary
Ireland Latvia Lithuania
(19) UN Census data from Population Censuses’ Datasets
(Demographic Yearbook). Available at:
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dybce
48
nsusdata.htm
49
Appendix Table 2a Female childlessness in selected countries
CHILDLESSNESS, female cohort
% of childless (source), (birth cohort)
Cohort
Cohort
Cohort
Cohort
Source
Country
1920/25,
1930/35
1940/45
1950/55
1960/65
Austria
17.2 (23) (1930)
14.8 (23) (1935)
11.9 (2) (1940)
12.4 (2) (1945)
14.3 (23) (1940)
15.1 (23) (1945)
12.6 (2)
(1950)
15.0 (2)
(1955)
16.9 (15)
(1963-64)
2 (1940-55)
15 (1963-
64)
23 (1930-
45)
Belgiu
m
29.2 (15) (1930-
34)
27.1 (15) (1935-
39)
16.8 (23) (1930)
14.8 (23) (1935)
24.9 (15) (1940-
44)
26.1 (15) (1945-
49)
13.1 (23) (1940)
12.8 (23) (1945)
16.1 (15)
(1950-54)
16.6 (15)
(1955-59)
12.6 (15)
(1960-64)
15 (1930-
64)
23 (1930-
45)
Bosnia
and
Herzeg.
14.8 (1935)
11.6 (1940)
15.6 (1945)
10.4 (1950)
1
Bulgari
a
9.4 (3x) (1932)
7.8 (15) (1930-
34)
8.2 (3x) (1935)
8.0 (15) (1935-
39)
4.6 (3x) (1940)
5.8 (15) (1940-
44)
2.9 (3x) (1945)
5.6 (15) (1945-
49)
7.3 (23) (1945)
2.4 (3x)
(1950)
6.3 (15)
(1950-54)
3.1 (3x)
(1955)
8.6 (15)
(1955-59)
9.6 (19)
(1960-64)
11.7 (19)
(1965-69)
3x (1932-
1955)
15 (1930-
59)
19 (1960-
69)
23 (1945)
Croatia
13.3 (1) (1935)
8.6 (1) 1940)
8.2 (19) (1945-
49)
6.1 (1) (1950)
8.6 (19)
(1950-54)
1 (1935-50)
19 (1945-
54)
Czech
R.
7.4 (3) (1935)
7.8 (23) (1936)
6.1 (3) (1940)
8.3 (3) (1945)
7.9 (23) (1940)
9.2 (23) (1945)
6.0 (3) (1950)
5.9 (3) (1955)
6.2 (3)
(1960)
7.2 (19)
(1965-69)
3 (1935-60)
19 (1965-
69)
23 (1936-
45)
Denmar
k
9.7 (2) (1940)
7.6 (2) (1945)
8.6 (12) (1945)
10.9 (1,2)
(1950)
12.5 (1,2)
(1955)
10.7 (12)
(1950)
11.8 (12)
(1955)
10.6 (12)
(1960)
9.8 (12)
(1965)
2 (1940-55)
1 (1950-55)
12 (1945-
65)
Estonia
9.6 (15) (1930-
34)
8.8 (15) (1935-
59)
7.8 (15) (1940-
44)
9.8 (3x) (1945)
7.4 (15) (1945-
49)
4.4 (3x)
(1950)
7.0 (4) (1950)
6.5 (15)
(1950-54)
9.3 (19)
(1960-64)
3x (1945-
55)
4 (1950)
15 (1930-
59)
50
6.1 (3x)
(1955)
6.2 (15)
(1955-59)
19 (1960-
64)
Finland
17.9 (13) (1921-
25)
16.4 (13) (1926-
30)
14.4 (14) (1935)
15.9 (23) (1935)
14.3 (2) (1940)
14.2 (2) (1945)
13.7 (14) (1940)
13.8 (14) (1945)
15.2 (23) (1940)
16.5 (23) (1945)
15.6 (2)
(1950)
16.5 (2)
(1955)
15.0 (14)
(1950)
16.3 (14)
(1955)
17.3 (14)
(1960)
19.2 (14)
(1965)
2 (1940-55)
13 (1921-
30)
14 (1935-
65)
23 (1930-
45)
France
19 (16) (1920-
24)
16 (16) (1925-
29)
12.0 (15) (1930-
34)
10.1 (15) (1935-
39)
11.7 (20) (1936-
40)
13.0 (23) (1930)
10.5 (23) (1935)
10.1 (2) (1940)
11.9 (15) (1940-
44)
11.6 (20) (1941-
45)
8.6 (2) (1945)
11.8 (15) (1945-
49)
11.9 (20) (1946-
50)
8.3 (23) (1940)
8.1 (23) (1945)
9.8 (2) (1950)
9.9 (15)
(1950-54)
12.0 (20)
(1951-55)
10.9 (2)
(1955)
11.9 (15)
(1955-59)
12.3 (20)
(1956-60)
13.5 (20)
(1961-65)
2 (1940-55)
15 (1930-
59)
16 (1920-
29)
20 (1936-
65)
23 (1930-
45)
Georgia
12.1 (1930-34)
12.1 (1935-39)
13.4 (1940-44)
11.2 (1945-49)
10.7 (1950-
54)
9.3 (1955-59)
15 (1930-
59)
German
y Total
23.2 (15) (1930-
34)
20.5 (15) (1935-
39)
19.2 (15) (1940-
44)
21.4 (15) (1945-
49)
16.3 (15)
(1950-54)
13.6 (15)
(1955-59)
15 (1930-
59)
18 (1940-
50)
German
y West
17 (17) (1920-
24)
10 (17) (1930-
34)
10 (17) (1935-
39)
10.6 (2) (1940)
11 (18) (1940)
12 (17) (1940-
44)
12.7 (2) (1945)
11 (18) (1945)
14 (17) (1945-
49)
14.2 (2)
(1950)
15 (18)
(1950)
18.3 (2)
(1955)
2 (1940-55)
17 (1920-
49)
German
y East
18 (17) (1920-
24)
11 (17) (1930-
34)
16.4 (1) (1935)
10 (17) (1935-
39)
11.0 (1) (1940)
9 (17) (1940-44)
8.4 (1) (1945)
8 (17) (1945-49)
7.3 (1) (1950)
1 (1935-50)
17 (1920-
49)
Greece
11.4 (1940)
12.5 (1945)
9.7 (1950)
8.4 (1955)
10.7 (1960)
1 (1940-60)
Hungar
16 (16) (1920-
9.0 (3) (1940)
8.7 (3) (1950)
9.0 (19)
1 (1935)
51
y
24)
14 (16) (1925-
29)
11.2 (15) (1930-
34)
11 (16) (1930-
34)
9.0 (1) (1935)
10.7 (15) (1935-
39)
9 (16) (1935-
39)
8.7 (23) (1937)
10.7 (15) (1940-
44)
9.3 (3) (1945)
10.0 (15) (1945-
49)
9.3 (23) (1940)
10.0 (23) (1945)
9.0 (15)
(1950-54)
8.3 (3) (1955)
8.3 (15)
(1955-59)
(1960-64)
12.0 (19)
(1965-69)
3 (1940-55)
15 (1930-
59)
16 (1920-
39)
19 (1960-
69)
23 (1937-
45)
Italy
16 (16) (1920-
24)
15 (16) (1925-
29)
13 (16) (1930-
34)
15.3 (1) (1935)
10 (16) (1935-
39)
13.1 (15) (1939)
12.8 (22) (1935-
39)
14.5 (1) (1940)
9.5 (15) (1940-
44)
11.7 (1) (1945)
14.9 (15) (1945-
49)
11.1 (22) (1940-
44)
13.1 (22) (1945-
49)
13.6 (23) (1940)
11.9 (23) (1945)
12.7 (1)
(1950)
16.1 (15)
(1950-54)
12.4 (1)
(1955)
16.0 (15)
(1955-59)
10.9 (22)
(1950-54)
12.7 (22)
(1955-59)
16.5 (22)
(1960-64)
21.1 (22)
(1965-69)
1 (1935-55)
15 (1939-
59)
16 (1920-
39)
22 (1935-
69)
23 (1940-
45)
Ireland
19.8 (23) (1940)
17.3 (23) (1945)
14.3 (19) (1945-
49)
15.4 (19)
(1950-54)
16.8 (19)
(1955-59)
18.0 (19)
(1960-64)
19.3 (19)
(1965-69)
23 (1940-
45)
19 (1945-
69)
Latvia
11.7 (19) (1940-
44)
10.0 (19) (1945-
49)
9.2 (19)
(1950-54)
19 (1940-
54)
Lithuan
ia
24.1 (15) (1930-
34)
16.8 (15) (1935-
39)
15.1 (15) (1940-
44)
13.1 (15) (1945-
49)
16.1 (15)
(1950-54)
5.6 (3x)
(1955)
12.6 (15)
(1955-59)
3.5 (3x)
(1960)
8.2 (19)
(1960-64)
8.5 (19)
(1965-69)
3x (1955-
60)
15 (1930-
59)
19 (1960-
69)
Mace-
donia
1.9 (1930)
7.5 (1935)
4.0 (1940)
3.9 (1945)
5.7 (1950)
10.0 (1955)
5.7 (1960)
1 (1930-60)
Nether-
lands
15 (16) (1920-
24)
14 (16) (1925-
29)
14.1 (3) (1930)
16.2 (15) (1930-
34)
12 (16) (1930-
34)
11.9 (3) (1940)
11.7 (15) (1940-
44)
11.7 (3) (1945)
12.9 (15) (1945-
49)
11.9 (23) (1940)
11.7 (23) (1945)
14.6 (3)
(1950)
16.6 (15)
(1950-54)
17.1 (3)
(1955)
17.7 (3)
(1959)
15.1 (15)
3 (1930-55)
15 (1930-
59)
16 (1920-
39)
23 (1930-
45)
52
11.7 (3) (1935)
7.6 (15) (1935-
39)
12 (16) (1935-
39)
15.4 (23) (1930)
11.7 (23) (1935)
(1955-59)
Norway
12.0 (15) (1930-
34)
11.8 (15) (1935-
39)
9.6 (1,9,23)
(1935)
11.4 (15) (1940-
44)
9.5 (1,9,23)
(1940)
10.4 (15) (1945-
49)
9.0 (1,9) (1945)
9.4 (1,9)
(1950)
10.4 (1)
(1953)
11.3 (15)
(1950-54)
11.2 (9)
(1955)
10.4 (15)
(1955-59)
11.9 (9)
(1960)
10.7 (15)
(1960-62)
12.5 (10)
(1965)
1 (1935-53)
9 (1935-60)
10 (1965)
15 (1930-
62)
23 (1930-
40)
Poland
10.3 (15) (1930-
34)
10.9 (15) (1935-
39)
6.6 (2) (1940)
10.4 (15) (1940-
44)
8.4 (2) (1945)
11.2 (15) (1945-
49)
8.6 (2) (1950)
11.0 (15)
(1950-54)
9.8 (2) (1955)
10.2 (15)
(1955-59)
9.9 (15)
(1960-64)
2 (1940-55)
15 (1930-
64)
Portuga
l
17 (16) (1920-
24)
17 (16) (1925-
29)
14 (16) (1930-
34)
2.0 (3x) (1945)
5.5 (3x)
(1950)
2.8 (3x)
(1955)
3x (1945-
55)
16 (1920-
34)
Romani
a
19 (16) (1920-
24)
16 (16) (1925-
29)
13 (16) (1930-
34)
14.6 (15) (1930-
34)
13.0 (15) (1935-
39)
14.1 (23) (1934)
12.8 (15) (1940-
44)
10.5 (2) (1945)
11.9 (15) (1945-
49)
11.6 (23) (1939)
10.2 (23) (1944)
6.3 (1) (1950)
9.2 (15)
(1950-54)
8.8 (1) (1955)
9.5 (15)
(1955-59)
8.1 (1)
(1960)
2 (1945)
1 (1950-60)
15 (1930-
59)
16 (1920-
34)
23 (1934-
44)
Russia
7.1 (15) (1930-
34)
6.1 (15) (1935-
39)
9.2 (15) (1940-
44)
8.1 (3x) (1945)
6.2 (15) (1945-
49)
6.4 (3x)
(1950)
4.0 (15)
(1950-54)
8.6 (3x)
(1955)
5.3 (15)
(1955-59)
5.1 (3x)
(1960)
3x (1945-
60)
15 (1930-
59)
Slovak
R.
9.4 (1935)
9.3 (1940)
11.7 (1945)
9.7 (1950)
9.5 (1955)
9.9 (1959)
3 (1935-59)
53
Data sources: see Appendix Table 1.
Sloveni
a
13.6 (1930)
11.2 (1935)
8.3 (1940)
8.8 (1945)
4.4 (1950)
1.5 (1955)
4.7 (1960)
1 (1930-60)
Spain
14.2 (23) (1933)
12.0 (23) (1938)
8.1 (2) (1940)
6.2 (2) (1945)
11.0 (23) (1943)
10.0 (23) (1948)
10.0 (2)
(1950)
10.4 (2)
(1955)
7.1 (1) (1955)
10.2 (1)
(1960)
2 (1940-55)
1 (1955-60)
23 (1933-
48)
Sweden
16.4 (8) (1925)
14.1 (8) (1930)
12.7 (8) (1935)
14.7 (23) (1930)
13.4 (23) (1935)
13.1 (2) (1940)
12.2 (2) (1945)
12.4 (8) (1940)
12.3 (8) (1945)
13.2 (23) (1940)
12.9 (23) (1945)
12.6 (2)
(1950)
12.8 (3)
(1955)
12.8 (8)
(1950)
14.3 (8)
(1955)
13.4 (3)
(1960)
14.3 (6)
(1960)
13.8 (6)
(1965)
2 (1940-50)
3 (1955-60)
6 (1960-65)
8 (1925-55)
23 (1930-
45)
Switzer
-land
15.3 (1935-39)
14.8 (1940-44)
15.4 (1945-49)
18.7 (1950-
54)
16.6 (1955-
59)
20.3 (1960-
64)
24 (1935-
64)
UK
(Englan
d and
Wales)
21.0 (5) (1920)
17.0 (5) (1925)
13.0 (5) (1930)
12.0 (5) (1935)
13.1 (1) (1930)
11.2 (1) (1935)
13.8 (21) (1930-
34)
12.5 (21) (1935-
39)
11.0 (5) (1940)
9.0 (5) (1945)
10.6 (1) (1940)
10.4 (1) (1945)
9.3 (21) (1940-
44)
11.8 (21) (1945-
49)
14.0 (5)
(1950)
15.0 (5)
(1955)
14.5 (1)
(1950)
16.9 (1)
(1955)
14.7 (21)
(1950-54)
14.2 (21)
(1955-59)
20.0 (5)
(1960)
20.0 (11)
(1965)
18.8 (11)
(1970)
14.3 (21)
(1960-64)
14.5 (21)
(1965-69)
17.1 (21)
(1970-74)
5 (1920-60)
1 (1930-55)
11 (1965-
70)
21 (1930-
74)
Yugosla
-via
(former
)
10.9 (1) (1935)
3.9 (1) (1940)
7.5 (1) (1945)
8.9 (23) (1940)
8.5 (23) (1945)
0.2 (1) (1950)
5.7 (1) (1955)
2.9 (1)
(1960)
1 (1935-60)
23 (1940-
45)
US
14.4 (1920)
10.9 (1925)
8.8 (1930)
6.1 (1935)
7.5 (1940)
11.1 (1945)
15.0 (1950)
16.3 (1955)
15.4 (1960)
3 (1920-60)
Australi
a
15 (16) (1920-
24)
11 (16) (1925-
29)
9 (16) (1930-
34)
9 (16) (1935-
39)
9 (16) (1940-44)
10.7 (19) (1945-
49)
13.1 (19)
(1950-54)
14.3 (19)
(1955-59)
15.5 (19)
(1960-64)
16.8 (19)
(1965-69)
16 (1920-
44)
19 (1945-
69)
54
Appendix Table 2b: Female childlessness in selected countries, recent birth cohorts
CHILDLESSNESS AT AGE 40/4044, females
Country
%
childless
at 40
Cohort
% childless
at 40-44
Cohort
Source
Austria
21.9
1970
19.6
1964-69
HFD/GGS(40-44)
Belgium
13.9
1963-70
GGS
Bosnia and H
no data
Bulgaria
6.8
1969
11.9 (20)
1967-71
HFD
Census 2011 (19)
Croatia
9.4 (20)
1957-61
no data/HFD
Census data 2001
(19)
Czech R.
8.1
1970
7.2 (20)
1967-71
HFD
Census 2011 (20)
Denmark
12.1 (12)
1970
Statistics Denmark
(12)
Estonia
10.0
1970
10.3 (20)
1967-71
HFDx
Census 2011 (19)
Finland
21.5
21.2 (14)
1969
19.7 (14)
1966-70
HFD
Statistics Finland
(14)
France
11.9
1961-66
GGS
Georgia
13.4
1961-67
GGS
Germany,
Total/West
T14.2
1961-65
GGS
Germany, East
no data
Greece
13.3 (20)
1957-61
Census data 2001
(19)
Hungary
10.9
1969
12.0 (20)
1967-71
HFD
Census data 2011
(19)
Ireland
19.3 (20)
1967-71
Census data
2011(19)
Italy
21.1
1965-69
Multipurpose survey
2009 (22)
Latvia
8.7 (20)
1956-60
Census data 2000
(19)
Lithuania
12.5
1970
9.3
1961-67
HFDx/GGS(40-44)
Macedonia
no data
Netherlands
19.0
1969
17.0
1958-64
HFD/GGS(40-44)
Norway
12.6
13.4 (10)
1969
1970
12.7
12.2/13.5
(10)
1962-69
1966/1970
HFD
Statistics Norway
(10)
GGS(40-44)
Poland
10.3
1965-71
GGS
Portugal
7.5
1969
HFDx
Romania
9.2
1961-66
GGS
Russia
8.1
1970
5.1
1960-65
HFDx/GGS(40-44)
55
Note: a) Data drawn from GGS refers to the proportion of childless persons among 40-44-
year old women (an average proportion of childless persons among survey respondents aged
40-44-years at the time of the survey(s) (age in completed years)), e.g. they belong to several
birth cohorts. Weights used if provided in the GGS data. GGS (Wave I): Austria, Belgium,
Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands,
Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia.
b) Data drawn from register databases (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) refers to the
proportion of childless persons among persons aged 40-44 years at the end of the year (age
reached during the year).
c) Data drawn from HFD refers to the proportion of childless persons at age 40 of a specific
birth cohort. Sources: HFD (http://www.humanfertility.org): Completed cohort fertility by
birth order at age 40. HFDx Data on cohort fertility indicators not reliable.
Appendix Table 3a: Male childlessness, selected countries
Slovak R.
12.2
1969
HFD
Slovenia
11.6
1969
7.0 (20)
1958-62
HFD
Census data 2002
(19)
Spain
no data
Sweden
13.8
13.7 (6)
1970
13.4 (7)
1966-70
HFD
Statistics Sweden
(6)
Statistics Sweden
(7)
Switzerland
21.2
1970
22.4
1968-
1972
Swiss Household
Panel, 2010 (24)
UK (England
and Wales)
19.0 (11)
18.8 (11,
coh1970)
1970
19.5 (11)
14.6 (22)
1966-70
ONS-UK Cohort
Fertility 2012 (11)
Cohort 1970-study
(11)
Understanding
society (21)
US
13.7
1970
HFD
Australia
16.8 (20)
1967-71
Census data (19)
CHILDLESSNESS, % of male cohorts (men at age 50/55 years)
Cohort
Country
1930/35
1940/45
1950/55
1960/65
Source
Finland
at 55:
19.5 (1936)
at 50:
18.4 (1941)
18.5 (1945)
at 55:
18.3 (1940)
18.1 (1945)
at 50:
21.3 (1950)
23.8 (1955)
at 55:
20.7 (1950)
23.4 (1955)
at 50:
25.6 (1960)
14 (1936-
60)
Norway
at 50:
13.6 (9) (1940)
13.3 (9) (1945)
at 50:
14.4 (9) (1950)
16.6 (9) (1955)
at 50:
19.9 (10)
(1960)
9 (1940-55)
10 (1960)
Sweden
at 55:
19.0 (7)
(1930)
at 55:
17.1 (6) (1940)
17.6 (6) (1945)
at 50:
19.4 (7) (1950)
21.3 (7) (1955)
at 50:
22.1 (7)
(1960)
6 (1945-55)
7 (1930-60)
56
Note: Register data from Finland, Norway and Sweden provides annual information on parity
distribution by age reached during the year/birth cohort (live births registered to a person).
Childlessness at a certain age refers thus to the proportion of childless persons of all persons
in this age group (birth cohort). For France, data are from population census 2011, INSEE.
For Italy, Italian Multipurpose survey 2009, for UK, Cohort 1970-study, for Switzerland,
SHP2000 and 2010.
17.0 (7)
(1935)
17.5 (6)
(1935)
at 55:
18.9 (6) (1950)
20.7 (6) (1955)
France
by 2011:
13.5 (20)
(1931-35)
13.5 (20)
(1936-40)
by 2011:
12.8 (20) (1941-
45)
14.0 (20) 1946-
50)
by 2011:
15.6 (20)
(1951-55)
17.9 (20)
(1956-60)
by 2011:
20.6 (20)
(1961-65)
20 (1931-
65)
Italy
12.4 (1935-
39, men 50-
54 yrs)
14.0 (1940-44,
men 50-54 yrs)
15.4 (1945-49,
men 50-54 yrs)
16.9 (1950-54,
men 50-54 yrs)
20.6 (1955-59,
men 50-54 yrs)
28.0 (1960-
64, men 40-
44 yrs)
30.8 (1965-
69, men 40-
44 yrs)
22 (1935-
69)
Switzerla
nd
9.3 (1940-44)
22.9 (1956-60,
men 45-49 yrs)
24.5 (1960-
64, men 45-
49 yrs)
24 (1940-
64)
CHILDLESSNESS, % of male cohorts (men at age 45 years)
Cohort
Country
1930/35
1940/45
1950/55
1960/65
Source
Finland
19.3 (1946)
21.9 (1950)
24.5 (1955)
26.1 (1960)
27.6 (1965)
14
Norway
13.9 (9)
(1940)
13.3 (9)
(1945)
14.8 (9)
(1950)
17.2 (9)
(1955)
19.4 (9) (1960)
22.1 (10) (1965)
9 (1940-60)
10 (1965)
Sweden
23.4 (8)
(1925)
20.6 (8)
(1930)
18.4 (8)
(1935)
18.1 (8)
(1940)
18.7 (8)
(1945)
20.0 (7)
(1950)
20.7 (8)
(1950)
22.0 (7)
(1955)
22.6 (8)
(1955)
23.1 (7) (1960)
22.0 (7) (1965)
7 (1950-65)
8 (1925-55)
France
20.6 (1961-65)
20 (1961-65)
UK
1970: 24.8 (at age
42)
11 (1970)
57
Appendix Table 3b: Male childlessness with GGS or other survey data
Note: Childlessness by birth cohorts refers to the proportion of childless persons of each 5-
year cohort at the time of the survey, thus the exact proportion of childless persons at a
specific age (for example, at age 50) could not be determined.
Data source: GGS-surveys conducted in 2002-2012: Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France,
Georgia, Germany T, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and
Russia. For Italy, data from GGS (2003-04, GGS) and Italian Multipurpose Survey (2009,
IMS), for Switzerland, Swiss Household Panel (2005).
CHILDLESSNESS, men at age 45-49
Country
1935-39
1940-44
1940-49
1950-54
1955-59
Belgium
25.6
34.1
28.9
23.8
19.3
Bulgaria
7.1
10.3
8.0
11.7
(12.8)
Estonia
10.8
11.2
8.5
11.8
(9.9)
France
10.4
15.1
11.2
10.6
(18.4)
Georgia
6.6
7.0
5.1
6.1
(8.4)
Germany
Total
22.2
23.9
22.1
22.6
(22.8)
Hungary
10.2
11.8
12.6
11.5
(16.2)
Italy
12.4
(IMS)
15.4
(GGS)
14.0
(IMS)
17.4
(GGS)
15.4
(IMS)
25.0
(GGS)
16.9
(IMS)
(22.9)
(GGS)
20.6
(IMS)
Lithuania
19.8
15.9
14.8
16.6
(12.8)
Netherlands
9.2
12.9
15.2
19.8
(16.4)
Norway
10.6
14.0
10.0
17.1
15.3
Poland
10.2
11.5
12.6
15.5
18.1
Romania
14.2
18.9
14.9
14
(17.6)
Russia
8.0
6.7
6.5
5.4
(7.7)
Switzerland
37.7
34.5
33.1
24.3
22.5
58
Appendix Table 3c: Male childlessness in selected countries, recent birth cohorts
Note
:
a) Data drawn from GGS refers to the proportion of childless persons among 40-44-year old
men (an average proportion of childless persons among survey respondents aged 40-44-years
at the time of the survey(s) (age in completed years)), e.g. they belong to several birth cohorts.
GGS (Wave I): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech R, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany,
Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia.
b) Data drawn from register data bases (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden) refers to the
proportion of childless persons among persons aged 40-44 years at the end of the year (age
reached during the year) at a specific calendar year.
c) For Italy: Italian Multipurpose Survey 2009 data for male cohorts 1935-59 at age 50-54
years, for cohorts 1960-69 at age 40-44 years. Weights used, for UK: Data from Cohort 1970-
study and Understanding Society 2009-survey, for Switzerland, SHP 2010.
CHILDLESSNESS AT AGE 40-44, males
Country
% childless at 40-
44
Cohort
Source/year
Austria
24.9
1964-69
GGS
Belgium
21.8
1963-70
GGS
Bulgaria
15.5
1960-65
GGS
Czech R.
17.3
1960-65
GGS
Estonia
13.9
1960-66
GGS
Finland
29.5
1966-70
Statistics Finland (14)/2010
France
21.9
1961-66
GGS
Georgia
12.2
1961-67
GGS
Germany
Total/West
T31.3
1961-65
GGS
Hungary
21.6
1960-65
GGS
Italy
30.7 (GGS)
30.8 (22) (40-44
yrs)
1959-63
(GGS)
1965-69
(22)
GGS
Multipurpose Survey 2009
(22)
Lithuania
13.3
1961-67
GGS
Netherlands