The Emergence of Sub-Replacement Family Size Ideals in Europe

Joshua R. Goldstein, Princeton University
Wolfgang Lutz, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Maria Rita Testa, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Much of the recent literature on post transition fertility takes as a point of departure the remarkably stable levels of stated family size ideals over the last three decades. In Europe even as period fertility rates have fallen well below replacement, family size ideals of 2 or more children have been the norm. In this paper, we present the first evidence of the emergence of sub-replacement fertility ideals. Specifically, we show that in the Eurobarometer 2001 survey women in German-speaking parts of Europe have average ideals of close 1.7 children per family. This paper studies the consistency and the credibility of these new findings which - if they are indeed indications of a new trend - may imply a further downward spiral of achieved fertility.

Presented in Session 107: Fertility Attitudes and Preferences II