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Has childlessness peaked in Europe?

Population and Societies

540, January 2017

n° ISSN 0184 77 83

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.

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