Twists and Turns in the Fertility Transition: Social Differentials in the Mid-20th Century Belgian Baby Boom

Jan Van Bavel, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In many countries, the historical transition towards low fertility was interrupted during the period around the 1950s and ‘60s, called the Baby Boom. That Baby Boom came completely unexpected. Indeed, at the time, all experts were foreseeing further fertility declines. Still today, we know little about the causes of the Baby Boom. For example, it is not clear whether or not all social groups participated in the trend towards higher fertility. This paper uses data from the Belgian 1981 Census to analyze social differentials in the Baby Boom. More specifically, it will analyze how the timing and quantum of fertility are associated with woman’s level of education in the cohorts born between 1901 and 1940. Preliminary results indicate a consistent educational gradient for age at first birth and convergence between women with different levels of education in terms of total cohort fertility.

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Presented in Session 152: Fertility Change Over Space and Time in Developed Countries