Pathways to First Birth and the Changing Role of Education in Europe and the United States

Julia Mikolai, University of Southampton

This paper applies multistate event history models to study the changing influence of educational attainment on six pathways to first birth for women born between 1950 and 1979 using harmonised retrospective fertility and union histories from 13 European countries and the United States. We find that when controlling for educational enrolment and birth cohort, having a first birth while being unpartnered (both never partnered and unpartnered after a union dissolution) or within cohabitation is associated with low education. Additionally, a first birth within marriage that was preceded by cohabitation and after re-partnering is primarily experienced by more educated women. When comparing the strength of the influence of education across these pathways, the influence of educational attainment is stronger on the transition to first birth within cohabitation and after re-partnering than on partnership transitions while this is the other way around for the pathways leading to a marital first birth.

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Presented in Session 32: Partnerships and Fertility