Has Divorce Become a Pro-Natal Force in Europe
at the Turn of the 21st Century?
Jan Van Bavel
Received: 6 April 2011 / Accepted: 24 April 2012 / Published online: 9 May 2012
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
Abstract Since the 1990s, the correlation between divorce and total fertility has
turned positive on the country level in Europe. This paper investigates whether this
positive association also holds on the individual level. To this end, it uses micro-
level data from the third round of the European Social Survey about 23 countries.
We introduce location-scale models to analyze both the average number of children
and the dispersion around this number. Particular attention goes to the role played
by repartnering. We ﬁnd that a past divorce experience is generally negatively
associated with the number of children ever born for both men and women, even for
people who are in a new post-divorce union. So, contrary to what is suggested by
aggregate level correlations, divorce has not become a pro-natal force in Europe.
The only exception may be remarried men, who are somewhat more likely to have
three or more children in our sample. Whereas the difference in average number of
children born between divorced and never divorced people is small, divorce is
associated with much greater heterogeneity in childbearing.
Keywords Divorce Á Remarriage Á Repartnering Á Fertility Á Europe Á
Ordinal regression analysis Á Location-scale model
J. Van Bavel (&)
CeSO/Centre for Sociological Research, University of Leuven, Parkstraat 45 bus 3601,
3000 Leuven, Belgium
M. Jansen Á B. Wijckmans
Interface Demography, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Popul Res Policy Rev (2012) 31:751–775