eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
TRAMES cover
TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.5


Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/tr.2009.2.02

Mare Ainsaar, Pirjo Paajanen


Decreasing fertility has been accompanied with the rising age of mothers almost in all the Western countries. Because of the lack of individual level surveys, the reasons for the postponement are often studied indirectly with the macro level data. Our aim is to explore the individual reasons of the postponement of births with a direct measurement instrument. The postponement of birth is defined as a situation when a person would like to have a child but it will be delayed at least for two years. Three prevailing types of reasons – resources, life stage, partner-related – are analysed in Estonia and Finland. The data from the surveys in 1999 and 2002 are used for analyses. It was found that the life stage and the resource reasons were equally prevailing in both countries among the reasons of postponement of births. However, life stage reasons were statistically more important in Finland than in Estonia. For different age groups and by different socio-demographic variables the reasons of the postponement of births vary considerably.


Ainsaar, M. (2001a) “The development of children and family policy in Estonia from 1945 to 2000.” Yearbook of Population Research in Finland 2001 (The Population Research Institute) 37, 23–40.

Ainsaar, M. (2001b) “Estonian family policy in the European context”. In Estonian human develop­ment report 2001, 36-40. R. Vetik, ed. Tallinn: Tallinna Pedagoogikaülikool, Rahvus­vaheline Sotsiaaluuringute Instituut.

Ainsaar, M. (2004) “Muutused laste päevahoiu teenuse maksumuses”. [Changes in cost of child daycare.] Sotsiaaltöö 3, 37–39.

Ainsaar, M. and R. Kiivet (2004) “Demograafiline areng”. [Demographic development.] In Räägime inimestest mitte numbritest, rahvastikust ja arengust Eestis 1994–2004 Kairo konverentsi tähistades, 9–22. [Lets’s talk about people, not about numbers, about population and development in Estonia.] K. Viik and M. Vessmann, eds. Tallinn:ÜRO Rahvastikufond, Eesti Pereplaneerimise Liit.

Ainsaar, M. and K. Oras (2000) Laste arvu mõjutavad tegurid Eestis. [Factors influencing the number of children in Estonia.] In Laste- ja perepoliitika Eestis ja Euroopas, 112–133. [Children- and Family Policy in Estonia and Europe.] M. Ainsaar, ed. Tallinn: Johannes Esto Ühing.

Aliaga, C. (2005) “Reconciling work and family life in the EU25 in 2003”. EUROSTAT News Release 49.

Alkula, T., S. Pöntinen, and P. Ylöstalo (1994) Sosiaalitutkimuksen kvantitatiiviset menetelmät. [Quantitative methods in Social Research.] Juva: WSOY.

Barber, J. (2001) “Ideational influences on the transition to parenthood: attitudes towards childbearing and completing alternatives”. Social Psychology Quaterly 64, 2, 101–127.

Pebley, A. R. (1981) “Changing Attitudes toward the Timing of First Births”. Family Planning Perspectives, 13, 4, 171–175.

Beck, C. (2004) Motivation: theories and principles. 5th ed. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Becker, G. and H. G. Lewis (1973) “On the interaction between the quantity and quality of children”. The Journal of Political Economy 81, 2, S279–S288.

Berelli-Harris, B. (2005) “The Path to Lowest-Low Fertility in Ukraine”. Population Studies 59, 1, 55–70.

Bratti, M. (2002) “Labour force participation and marital fertility of Italian women: the role of education”. Journal of Population Economics 16, 3, 525–554.

Coleman, D. (1996) “New patterns and trends in European fertility: international and sub-national comparison”. In Europe's population in the 1990s, 1–61. D. Coleman, ed. Oxford University Press.

Council of Europe (2002) Recent demographic developments in Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Council of Europe (2003) Recent demographic developments in Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Forssén, K. (1999) “Family policies and the economic well-being of children in some OECD countries”. In Social policy in the tandem with the labour market in the European Union, 177–196. Helsinki: Ministry of Social affairs and Health.

Frejka, T. and J.-P. Sardon (2004) Childbearing trends and prospects in low fertility countries. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Hoem, J. M., A. Prskawetz, and G. R. Neyer (2001) Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria. (Working Paper, WP-2001-016.) Rostock: MPIDR.

Kangas, O. (1999) “Social policy in settled and transitional countries: a comparison of institutions and their consequences”. In Social policy in the tandem with the labour market in the European Union, 11–43. Helsinki: Ministry of Social affairs and Health.

Kantorová, V. (2004) “Education and entry into motherhood: the Czech Republic during state-socialism and the transition period (1970–1997)”. Demographic Research Special collection 3, article 10,

Kemkes-Grottenthaler, A. (2003) “Postponing or rejecting parenthood? Results of a survey among female academic professionals”. Journal Biosocial Sciences 35, 213–226.

Kohler, H.-P., J. A. Ortega, and F. C. Billari (2001) Towards a theory of lowest-low fertility. (Working Paper, WP-2001-032.) Rostock: MPIDR.

Kohler, H.-P., J. A. Ortega, and F. C. Billari (2002) “The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe during the 1990s”. Population and Development Review 28, 4, 641–680.

Kravdal, Ø. (2001) “The high fertility of college educated women in Norway. An artefact of the separate modelling of each parity transition”. Demographic Research 5, article 6,

Kreyenfeld, M. (2002) “Crisis or adaptation reconsidered: a comparison of East and West German fertility patterns in the first six years after the ‘Wende’”. (Working Paper, WP-2002-032.) Rostock: MPIDR,

Kreyenfeld, M. (2004) Fertility decisions in the FRG and GDR. Rostock: MPIDR. (Working Paper.)

Krusell, S. (2007) “Labour market positions of young Estonians and non-Estonians”. In. Social Trends 4, 61–67. U. Kask, comp. Tallinn: Statistics Estonia.

Liefbroen, A. and M. Corijn (1999) “Who, what, where, and when? Specifying the impact of educational attainment and labour force participation on family formation”. European Journal of Population 15, 45–75.

Lutz, W., B. O’Neill, and S. Scherbov (2003) “Europe’s population at a turning point”. Science 299, 1991–1992.

Monnier, A. and J. Rychtarikova (1992) “The Division of Europe into East and West”. Population: An English Selection, 4, 129–159.

Morgan, P.S. and R. R. Rindfuss (1999) “Examing the link of early childbearing to marriage and to subsequent fertility”. Demography 36, 1, 59–75.

Mulder, C. (1993) Migration dynamics: a life course approach. Amsterdam: Thesis Publishers.

Ní Bhrolcháin, M. and L. Toulemon (2005) “Does postponement explain the trend to later childbearing in France?” Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2005, 83–107.

Nikander, T. (1998) Standard country report: Finland, fertility and family survey in countries of the ECE region. (Economic Studies, 10.) New York and Geneva: United Nations.

Oja, U. and E.-M. Tiit (2002) “Recalculating expansion factors of the living condition survey samples based on the data of the 2000 census”. In Living conditions in Estonia five years later. Norbalt II, 164–176. D. Kutsar, ed. Tartu: University of Tartu, Fafo Institute for Applied Social Research.

Paajanen, P. (2002) Perhebarometri 2002. Saako haikara tulla käymään? Suomalaisten lasten­hankinnan ihanteet ja todellisuus. [Familybarometer 2002. Can stork drop in? Wishes and reality about having a child in Finland.] (Katsauksia, E 14/2002.) Helsinki: Väestöliitto, Väestöntutkimuslaitos.

Philipov, D. and H. P. Kohler (2001) “Tempo effects in the fertility decline in eastern Europe: evidence from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia”. European Journal of Population17, 1, 37–60.

Pitkanen, K. and M. Jalovaara (2007) ”Perheet ja perhenmuodostus”. [Families and family formation.] In. Suomen väestö, 115–167. [Population in Finland.] S. Koskinen, T. Martelin, I.- L. Notkola, V. Notkola, K. Pitkänen, M. Jalovaara, E. Mäenpää, A. Ruokolainen, M. Ryy­nänen and I. Söderling, eds. Helsinki: Gaudeamus.

Prince-Gibson, E. and S. H. Schwartz (1998) “Value priorities and gender”. Social Psychology Quaterly 61, 1, 49–67.

Sakkeus, L. (2007) “Population development from the social cohesion perspective”. In. Social Trends 4, 11–40. U. Kask, comp. Tallinn: Statistics Estonia.

Sardon, J.-P. (1993) “Women's First Marriage Rates in Europe: Elements for a Typology”. Population: An English Selection, 5, 120–152.

Shkolnikov, V.M., E. M. Andreev, R. Houle, and J. W. Vaupel (2004) To concentration of repro­duction in cohorts of US and European women. (Working Paper.) Rostock: MPIDR,

Skirbekk, V., H.-P. Kohler, and A. Fürnkranz-Prskawetz (2003) Completing education and the timing of births and marriage: findings from a birth-month experiment in Sweden. (Working Paper, WP-2003-017.) Rostock: MPIDR.

Sobotka, T. (2004a) “Is Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe Explained by the Postponement of Childbearing?” Population and Development Review 30, 2, 195–220.

Sobotka, T. (2004b) Postponement of childbearing and low fertility in Europe. (Population Studies.) Amsterdam: Dutch University Press.

Statistics Sweden (2001) “Varför föds det så få barn? Resultat av enkätundersökning om vad som påverkar beslutet att få barn”. Demografiska rapporter 1.

Stropnik, N. (2000) “Lastetoetused ja lastega seotud maksusoodustused mõnedes Euroopa riikides”. [Family allowances and fax benefits in some European countries.] In Laste- ja perepoliitika Eestis ja Euroopas, 46–58. [Children and Family policy in Estonia and Europe.], M. Ainsaar, ed. Tallinn: Rahvastikuministri büroo.

Tiit, E-M. and M. Ainsaar (2002) “Future reproductive behaviour in Estonia”. In Living Conditions in Estonia five years later, 37–71. D. Kutsar, ed.Tartu: Tartu University Press.

Turunen, A. (1998) Lastenhankinnan päätöksenteko. Tilastollinen tutkimus suomalaisten naisten perhearvoista ja lastenhankintasuunnitelmiin vaikuttavaista tekijöistä. Sosiologian pro gradu tutkielma. [Decision about having a baby. Statistical study about family values and factors influencing plans to have a baby among Finnish women. Sociological pro gradu research.] Helsinki: Helsingin yliopisto.

Vikat, A. (2004) Women’s labour force attachment and childbearing in Finland. (Working Paper.) Rostock: MPIDR. .

World Fertility Report 2003 (2004). New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.

Back to Issue