Choosing the Time of Year for Births: A Barely Perceptible Phenomenon in France

Short paper
By Arnaud Régnier-Loilier, Elizabeth Wiles-Portier


Intentional timing by couples was one of the explanations put forward for the spring birth peak observed in France in the 1970s and 1980s. At first sight, recent changes in seasonality, characterized by a shift in the mode and a reduction in amplitude, appear to challenge this hypothesis. However, data from two recent surveys, which included specific questions on this topic, as well as from the registry of births, show that a non-negligible proportion of couples deliberately discontinue birth control in order to have a child at a particular time of the year. Their decision seems to be driven mainly by the attraction of the summer months and by job-related concerns. When the seasonal birth rates are broken down according to the woman’s occupation, we find distinctive patterns for three categories: “farmers”, “self-employed: business, trade and crafts” and, above all, “primary-school teachers”. The majority of the latter give birth in spring – far fewer have children in July and August – so that their maternity leave will run into the long summer holidays.

Go to the article on