Population & Societies n° 540 – January 2017

Press release Published on 11 January 2017

Population & Sociétés n° 540 – janvier 2017

In Europe, women are having children at later ages and fertility is low. One might assume that childlessness rates have reached unprecedented levels, but in fact, women born in the first decade of the twentieth century remained childless more often than those born in the 1970s.

Éva Beaujouan, Tomáš Sobotka, Zuzanna Brzozowska, and Kryštof Zeman study how childlessness evolved in twentieth‐century Europe. Almost a quarter of European women born in the first decade of the twentieth century had no children. Childlessness decreased in later cohorts, and  among women born in the 1940s only one in ten, on average, remained childless. In the west, an upturn in childlessness was observed from the late 1940s cohorts, reaching an average of 15% in northern Europe and 18% in western Europe. In recent years, the increase has been most    notable in southern Europe – where up to a quarter of the women born in the 1970s may remain childless – due to weak family policies combined with persistent gender inequalities that make it difficult for women to reconcile work and family life.