Sub-replacement fertility intentions in Austria: exceptional case or a likely future trend in other European Countries?
Tomas Sobotka, Vienna Institute of Demography
Fertility rates in most European countries declined to low levels, whereas the mean intended family size usually remained at or even above two children. Austria appears to be one of the notable exceptions from this pattern. Combining the data of 1986-2001 Microcensus surveys I reconstruct trends in fertility intentions across time and over life course for Austrian women born since the 1950s. I analyse the overall evolution of intended family size as well as parity-specific trends in childbearing desires. Already in 1986 young adults in Austria expressed fertility intentions that were below the replacement-level threshold and women born since the mid-1950 consistently desired fewer than two children on average throughout their reproductive lives. Highly educated women have slightly lower family size preferences in their mid-to late-twenties and a considerable portion of their childbearing plans still remains unrealised when they reach late thirties. Young adult women in some other European countries have also experienced fall in their desired family size to sub-replacement levels. This may signal a beginning of a new era, when the dominance of a two-child family model may gradually erode.