Academic journal article Trames

Resource, Life Stage and Partner-Related Reasons of Postponement of Births: Comparison of Estonia and Finland

Academic journal article Trames

Resource, Life Stage and Partner-Related Reasons of Postponement of Births: Comparison of Estonia and Finland

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

There are many different ways how the postponement of births is understood and conceptualised. Several papers (Bebley 1981, Sobotka 2004a, Berelli-Harris 2005) see the rising age of mothers and consequent temporary decline of period fertility rates as fertility postponement, others define it as a combination of micro and macro level features (Kohler et al 2002, Ni Bhrolchain and Toulemon 2005). Ni Bhrolchain and Toulemon (2005) distinguish between postponement as behavioural process and postponement as a statistical-demographic sequence of events. In both cases the postponement can lead to the decline of completed cohort fertility rates or recuperation of fertility later.

Most European countries face a situation where people would like to have more children than they actually have. The postponement of births is often considered to be responsible for this gap and the overall decline of fertility (Kohler et al. 2001). Although the postponement of childbearing has been seen as a factor causing the decline of average fertility, its influence is not necessarily so clear in the conditions of generally low completed fertility. The postponement of births does not necessarily lead to the decline of completed cohort fertility. Namely the last studies show that although the period fertility rates are partly the result of fertility timing, the completed fertility is not necessarily influenced by the period changes when the postponement of births is accompanied by the concentration of the rest of births to the shorter vital period (Kohler et al. 2001). Also, Sobotka (2004b) argues that the higher age of mothers at first births was also common centuries ago in the conditions of a rather high completed fertility. He believes that the postponement of first births cannot be the only explanation of declining fertility.

However, there are many arguments in order to support the negative influence of postponement on fertility. For example, Frejka and Sardon (2004:18) state that fertility decline of young women is often misinterpreted as a postponement of childbearing. Instead, it might be more a cause-result relation: the initial decision about the postponement later transforms into the decision to have less or no children at all. Also, the postponement of births can contribute to the lower fertility via rising infertility in older ages. Several authors (Morgan and Rindfuss 1999, Lutz et al. 2003) refer to the fact that the postponement of first births reduces the average number of children born to a woman because the later fertility debut suppresses fertile age. After the subtraction of fertility decline in five Central and Eastern European countries Philipov and Kohler (2001) found two components of fertility decline: the correspondence of the decline to the overall social and economic situation and the tempo effect.

Despite the unclear influence on the final fertility outcome, research about the reasons of the postponement of the births remains essential, because the determinants of delayed parenthood can coincide with the determinants why people finally give up the idea to have children at all. The analyses of the reasons of the postponing of childbearing can contribute to the knowledge about the formation of the overall fertility trends as well.

The aim of this paper is to analyse the reasons of the postponement of births in two neighbouring countries: Estonia and Finland. In this study a definition of postponement of births includes two components: firstly, the wish to have more children and secondly, the decision to postpone the birth of a child for some period. The paper concentrates on the micro level explanations and explains why and how the postponement of births of the child occur in different population groups. We are interested in the general distribution of reasons in two countries, but also in the factors which determine the probability of occurrence of different reasons. …

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