Remaining childless in affluent economies: a comparison of France, West Germany, Italy and Spain, 1994–2001 Rester sans enfant dans des sociétés d'abondances: une comparaison de la France, l'Allemagne de l'Ouest et l'Espagne, 19994–2001

Original Paper


This article explores why women delay childbearing and increase their likelihood to remain childless in Spain, Italy, West Germany and France. We take a macro–micro perspective and show that national institutions influence women’s life transitions, in particular partnership and motherhood. For coupled women, we find two alternative modes out of childlessness. In countries with high direct and indirect child costs, like Spain and Italy, entering a male-breadwinner couple or occupying a stable and high-income position facilitates motherhood, while in the French context motherhood is most likely in a dual-earner partnership.


Childlessness family formation European comparative analysis 


Cet article explore les raisons pour lesquelles les femmes retardent la procréation au risque de ne pas avoir d’enfants, en Espagne, Italie, Allemagne de l’Ouest et France. A l’aide d’une perspective macro-micro, nous démontrons que les politiques nationales influencent les transitions dans la vie des femmes, et notamment la mise en couple et la maternité. Pour les femmes en couple, il y a deux façons de faire la transition vers le premier enfant. Dans les pays où les coûts directs et indirects de l’enfant sont élevés, comme l’Italie et l’Espagne, le fait de devenir femme au foyer avec un conjoint qui travaille, ou encore d’occuper une position professionnelle stable et bien rémunérée facilite la maternité, alors que dans le contexte de la France, la maternité est plus probable dans le cadre de couples bi-actifs.


non-maternité formation des familles perspective comparative européenne 


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We thank the anonymous referees for the review of the paper and for their very constructive comments. This research was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (BSO-2003-08298 and SEC2003-02699) and BBVA Foundation. We thank Muriel Moisy (Université Paris X – Nanterre) for her initial discussion and contribution to this research; Pau Miret (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) for his precious help with the ECHP; the participants of the conference of “The Second Demographic Transition in Europe” (Spa, Belgium), in particular Francesco Billari, for their comments; Fabrizio Bernardi and Pau Baizán for their methodological observations, and the important support of Juan del Nido in reconciling work and family.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • María-José González
    • 1
  • Teresa Jurado-Guerrero
    • 2
  1. 1.Departament de Ciències Polítiques i SocialsUPFBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Sociología IIU.N.E.D.MadridSpain

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