Fertility Transition in 19th-20th century Estonia: An Individual Level Perspective

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Sociologiska institutionen

Author: Markus Läll; [2015]

Keywords: ;



Fertility transition has yet to accumulate a large set of studies withindividual level data to allow to make wide generalizations. Recently theavailability of data has become better. The current thesis is one step in thedirection of looking into the fertility transition as a whole with individuallevel data and by using event-history methods on the case of Estonia.


The study takes the cohort perspective to find out which birth cohorts at whichparities started the fertility transition, what were the different paths takenby urban and rural populations and how did birth spacing change over time.


We use register data collected by the First Estonian Republic, which has thefertility histories of birth cohorts of Estonian women born between 1845 and 1919,and fertility processes lasting until the year 1949. We analyse these withpiece-wise constant survival models separately for each parity; having birth cohort,urban-rural residency and piece-wise constant durations since previous birth asthe main variables.


We find that that probability to next birth starts to decline earlier for thehigher parities and moves to lower parities for later cohorts. For parities 3-7women born in 1873-1880 are first with significantly lower hazard to next birth.For parity 2 the 1880-1887 birth cohort starts the transition. All paritiescontribute to the fertility decline. For the urban population the fertilitydecline is greater in proportion and also lasts less in birth cohorts, while forthe rural population the decline is more gradual and lasts longer. In the birthspacing dimension we find that the average interval between births becameshorter over time across all parities, and for both the urban and the ruralpopulation.

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