Educational Pairings and Fertility: How do the Low Educated Fare?

Authored by Natalie Nitsche, Anna Matysiak, Daniele Vignoli, and Jan Van Bavel. Research in progress; a first draft is available here: Educational Pairings and Low Education

ABSTRACT: Recent literature suggests that the fertility-education relationship may be mediated by the educational attainment of the partner, especially among the more highly educated. However, there are no studies focusing on the fertility of couples who are left behind in educational attainment. We address this by investigating how educational pairings among married and cohabiting partners relate to first, second and third birth transitions across 22 European countries, using EU-SILC panel-data. Our findings show no significant differences between homogamous low educated couples and couples with one low and one higher educated partner (either she low/he more education or he low/she more education) in second and third parity progressions. However, couples with one or two low educated partners have significantly lower progressions to second births compared to couples with two highly educated partners. These lower rates for the low educated contradict earlier patterns and may point to newly emerging socio-economic inequalities in family dynamics in Europe.

His Education, Her Education, and Fertility: Exploring How Educational Pairings Affect Couples’ Childbearing Behavior

Authored by Natalie Nitsche and Jan Van Bavel. Research in Progress; an extended abstract is available here: Educational Pairings and Mechanisms

ABSTRACT: A growing body of literature seeks to understand childbearing behavior from a couple’s perspective. Accumulating evidence suggests that the fertility-education relationship for women depends on the partner’s education, and vice versa. Specifically, couples with two highly educated partners may today have higher second or third birth hazards than couples with only one highly educated partner or two lower educated partners. Yet, this evidence is largely descriptive; not much is known about the underlying mechanisms of why and how the educational pairings of the partners may be meaningful for their childbearing behavior. Using panel data from Germany (Pairfam) and Australia (Hilda), we address this question and test several possible mechanisms such as differences in the division of housework, his and her gender ideology and how well the partners are matched on them, perceived conflict, and whether there are differences in how well the partners are matched on fertility preferences across educational pairings

Unfolding Families: Unifying the Analysis of Union and Childbearing Trajectories Using Simultaneous Equations

Natalie Nitsche, Marika Jalovaara and Katherine Masyn; Work in Progress

Using a union- and couple perspective, the objective of this paper is to better understand the effect of his, her, and the partners’ joint education on family formation trajectories using a holistic approach that jointly estimates the effect of education on probabilities of remaining in the union, ending the union, and progressing to the next parity. More specifically, the focus of our research is to estimate the effect of education (and possibly other measures of socio-economic background) on each parity progression, while jointly estimating its effect on the competing risk of ending the union before a possible birth of the next child, or of remaining in the union but without progressing to the next parity. Thus, the objective of our research is to obtain a pure estimate of the effect of educational attainment of both partners (individually and their educational pairing) on cumulative incidences of parity progressions, while ‘adjusting’ for potential biases of the estimate that would follow if the effect of educational attainment on the selection out of unions/remaining in unions remained unaccounted for. The first selection step, namely selection into the union and how this may be dependent upon educational trajectories up to the point of union formation, cannot be addressed by this approach. However, we will be able to control for parental socio-economic background (during childhood), at least for a subset of the sample. For the analyses, we will use Finnish Register data of the birth cohort 1969/70, which features information on full cohabitation and marital union trajectories as well as fertility histories up to the age of 40, and structural equation modelling for event history data.