Union Formation and Childbearing in Developed Countries
Serguey Ivanov, United Nations
The paper examines the momentous changes in union formation and childbearing that took place during the last decades of the 20th century in the developed countries. The study uses macro-level data series and is partly derived from the recent United Nations report (http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/reprobehavior/partrepro.pdf). Pertinent indicators are close within geographical regions, which thus emerge as contrasting clusters. Since 1970, the proportion of ever-married women in prime reproductive age fell from 2-4-fold, except in Eastern Europe. In Northern and Western Europe and Northern America, cohabitation partially compensates for the delay of formal marriage, as the proportion of women who enter either a formal or an informal union by age 25 remains stable at 70-80 per cent. Out-of-wedlock childbearing weakened the relationship between nuptiality and fertility in Northern and Western Europe, but not in Eastern and Southern Europe. In Eastern Asia and Southern Europe, most characteristics of union formation and childbearing are conducive to particularly low fertility.