Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 871–900 | Cite as

Educational attainment and maternity in Spain: not only “when” but also “how”

  • María A. DaviaEmail author
  • Nuria Legazpe


This paper describes how women with different human capital endowments behave differently with regard to the decision to bear their first child and disentangles the overall effects of education on the timing of the birth of the first child through a set of intervening variables. To do so, a decomposition technique that enables distinction between direct and indirect effects in logistic regressions is deployed. Education drives different fertility behavior patterns and delays fertility through several mechanisms: attachment to the labor market, non-traditional values, and the characteristics of the partner and the partnership. Nevertheless, the ability of the mechanisms explored in this study to explain the link between education and fertility timing is rather limited, and a large part of this relationship remains unexplained. In addition, we find evidence of differences across educational groups in the way women’s decisions to have their first child respond to several explanatory factors, which points at a structural change in the decision taking amongst women with different educational endowments.


Fertility Human capital Intervening variables Duration analysis Decomposition 

JEL Classification

J13 J16 J24 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Maarten Buis for his help and advice on the application of his STATA program ldecomp while Maria A. Davia was visiting WZB (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung), which hospitality is greatly acknowledged. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y EmpresarialesUniversidad de Castilla – La ManchaAlbaceteSpain
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias Sociales - Edificio Gil de AlbornozUniversidad de Castilla – La ManchaCuencaSpain

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