The gap between preferred and observed fertility is comparably very large in Spain. All evidence suggests that child preferences have remained quite stable. This suggests that fertility decline cannot be attributed to factors like value change. We take as our point of departure the link between postponed motherhood and fertility. Why is it that rather similar ages at first births produce such large differences in overall fertility across countries - with TFRs around 1.9-2.0 in France, UK and Scandinavia and below 1.4 in Italy and Spain? There are well-documented factors, such as labor market and employment conditions, and also welfare state effects. We shall probe into two additional, and far less researched, factors. The first is related to changing gender relations within partnerships. Here the hypothesis is that more equitable and symmetric relations are becoming a precondition for births. Moreover, the role of fathers is undergoing change. Fertility depended traditionally on their breadwinner capacity while, today, women's fertility decisions are increasingly a function of their own economic status. The second is related to the correlates of fertility, marriage and divorce behavior in particular. In some countries, Scandinavia in particular, fertility recovery occurs on the backdrop of rising marriage and falling divorce rates among the higher educated. Also, as in France, co-habitation has become a functional equivalent of marriage, also in terms of fertility. The question is whether Spain is moving in a similar direction.
La Caixa (CN03012).