Fertility differences by education in Britain and France: The role of religion

By Nitzan Peri-Rotem

Female education is generally associated with lower fertility and higher rates of childlessness. However, it remains unclear whether higher education implies similar fertility behaviour among women of different religious denominations at varying levels of religiosity. To assess whether this is the case, this study uses data from the British Household Panel Survey and the French Generations and Gender Survey to explore the intersection of religion (measured by religious practice, Catholic affiliation in France, and Protestantism and in Britain), education, and fertility outcomes for women born between the 1920s and 1960s. In Britain, higher education reduces the odds of entering motherhood more often among religiously unaffiliated women compared to nominally and practising religious women, although no such interaction effect is found in France. However, religiosity in both countries attenuates the negative relationship between education and completed family size. While unaffiliated women have a negative educational gradient of fertility, this study finds a U-shaped relationship between education and completed fertility among practising Catholic women. Moreover, differences in completed fertility by religious affiliation and practice are more pronounced among highly educated women. These findings are attributed to differences in the perceived value and costs of children across religious groups.

  • religion
  • religiosity
  • fertility
  • education
  • childlessness
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info