The Influence of Childbearing Regional Contexts on Ideal Family Size in Europe

By Maria Rita Testa, Leonardo Grilli


The two-child family ideal is no longer universally widespread in Europe, but the reasons why people prefer a given number of children have not yet been systematically investigated. In our study, we adopt a multilevel approach to examine the individual and regional factors of ideal family size by taking into account the similarities of people sharing the same unobservable demographic and socio-economic environment. Logistic regression models are implemented using Eurobarometer data on the preferences of respondents aged 20-39 embedded in the regions of the 15 member countries of the European Union in 2001. The main result is that the context of actual fertility of the older generations influences the preferences of the younger cohorts: in regions where the past actual childbearing is, on average, lower, we find that the individual probability of preferring smaller families of people in reproductive ages is higher.

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