No Experience of Union Formation as a Proximate Determinant of Remaining Childless

Ryohei Mogi , Pompeu Fabra University
Ewa Batyra, Center for Demographic Studies
Ilya Kashnitsky, Interdisciplinary Centre On Population Dynamics, University Of Southern Denmark

The main driver of current low fertility rates in most high-income countries is the increasing childless population, and this trend has also started in some low- and middle-income countries. Understanding the determinants of childlessness is crucial, given that most individuals remain childless unintentionally. There are various factors influencing fertility outcomes, and they can be classified into indirect factors (e.g., economic or environmental influences) and direct, proximate, factors (e.g., union formation or contraceptive use). This study uses data from the Generations and Gender Survey and the Demographic and Health Surveys to explore the association the proportion of individuals who have never formed a union among the childless population aged 35 and above and the proportion of childless population. Our analyses span from 64 countries in Europe, post-Soviet area, Latin America, Asia and Africa, revealing two two major trends. First, countries with a higher Human Development Index tend to have higher levels of childlessness for both genders. The gender gap in childlessness varies across development levels, with men being more likely than women to stay childless in most of Europe, post-Soviet countries, and Latin America, while for the rest of the world the results are mixed. Second, our results may also indicate that union formation plays a major role in the likelihood of remaining childless when the prevalence of childlessness is still low. However, as the proportion of childless population rises, other factors might become more prominent.

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 Presented in Session 20. Fertility and Singlehood