The demographic situation in France

Women’s Fertility and Educational Level in France: Evidence from the Annual Census Surveys

Emma Davie  By the same author

      Magali Mazuy  By the same author

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AbstractUsing data from the French annual census surveys conducted between 2004 and 2009, this article applies the own-children method to analyse women’s fertility with respect to their educational level over the period 2000-2008. About 2.5% of children cannot be matched to their mother, and a shortfall of very young children is observed in the census surveys. For this reason the age-specific fertility rates derived from these surveys are slightly lower than those based on birth records, notably at ages below 30. Fertility varies substantially with educational level. The move to later age at childbearing is observed for all women, particularly those with no qualifications. But the process of entry into motherhood differs between social groups: mean age at first birth according to the census surveys is 25 for the least educated women compared with 30 for those educated to degree level. The latter tend to concentrate their childbearing around age 31, whereas births among women with no qualifications are more spread out in time. Unqualified non native-born women have a higher fertility than their equivalents in the native-born population, whereas women educated to degree level have broadly similar fertility levels whether born in France or not. Finally, fertility of non native-born women contributes little – less than 0.1 child per woman – to overall fertility.