Childlessness in life course perspective: a comparison between Hungary and Switzerland

Ivett Szalma, Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences
Judit Takacs, Institute of Sociology, CSS, HAS

Childlessness in life course perspective: A comparison between Hungary and Switzerland Although the childlessness rate has been increasing in most European countries this topic has received little attention within the literature related to fertility patterns so far. Based on macro level data analysis it turned out that there is not a strong relationship between low fertility level and childlessness. In order to understand the phenomenon of childlessness in more detail we should analyze micro data. This research investigates what kinds of life course developments lead to remaining childless. Previous research has shown that partnership, educational and employment histories are particularly important in this respect (Tanturri – Mencarini, 2008; Szalma – Takács 2012; Mynaroska et. al. 2013). The aim of this research is to explore paths to childlessness over the life courses of Hungarian and Swiss women and men. We pay attention to the incidence, timing, sequence and duration of these life events in the course of respondents’ lives. The empirical base of our proposed presentation is given by the Hungarian datasets of the Gender and Generation Survey; its first three waves were carried out between 2001 and 2008. For Switzerland we used the Swiss Household Panel (SHP) which was carried out every year since 1999. We applied sequence analysis and explored biographies of childless women and men aged 30-49 in both countries. Tanturri, M. L. – Mencarini, L. (2008). Childless or Childfree? Paths to Voluntary Childlessness in Italy. Populaltion Development Review, 34(1), 51-77. Szalma, I. – Takács J., (2012): A gyermektelenséget meghatározó tényezok Magyarországon [Factors Influencing Childlessness in Hungary] Demográfia 55(1): 44-68. Mynariska, M., Matysiak, A., Rybinska, A., Tocchioni, V., Vignoli, D., (2013) Diverse Paths into Childlessness over the Life Course. Working Paper, ISID No 34.

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Presented in Session 101: Childlessness, fertility and employment