Cross-national differences in norms against childlessness: The role of individual characteristics and national context

Suzanne Noordhuizen, Tilburg University
Paul de Graaf, Tilburg University

Numerous studies report the issues of declining fertility rates and below replacement levels for many European countries. Nevertheless, little is known about if and why norms against childlessness vary across Europe. This study uses multilevel models for 38 European countries to test hypotheses at both the individual- and context level. Using data from the European Values Study 2008, first public release, our analyses show that Europeans do not share common norms regarding childlessness: In the Netherlands and Finland norms against childlessness are weaker than in Georgia and Bulgaria, with the other countries in between. At the individual level, those with stricter norms against childlessness are the lower educated, married or widowed respondents and Muslims and Catholics. At the contextual level, higher levels of childlessness, GDP per capita and gender equality weaken norms against childlessness, while higher church attendance levels is associated with stricter norms.

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Presented in Session 86: National and sub-national norms and attitudes and fertility