Previous studies of the fertility decline in Europe are often limited to an earlier stage of the marital fertility decline, when the decline tended to be slower and before the large increase in earnings in the 1920s. Starting in 1860 (before the onset of the decline), this study follows marital fertility trends until 1939, when fertility reached lower levels than ever before. Using data from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN), this study shows that mortality decline, a rise in real income, and unemployment account for the decline in the Netherlands. This finding suggests that marital fertility decline was an adjustment to social and economic change, leaving little room for attitudinal change that is independent of social and economic change.

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