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  • Hippolyte d’Albis (a1), Paula E. Gobbi (a2) and Angela Greulich (a3)


This paper shows that differences in fertility across European countries mainly emerge due to fewer women having two children in low-fertility countries. It further suggests that childcare services are an important determinant for the transition to a second child to occur. The theoretical framework we propose suggests that (i) in countries where childcare coverage is low, there is a U-shaped relationship between a couple’s probability of having a second child and the woman’s potential wage, whereas (ii) in countries with easy access to childcare, this probability is positively related with the woman’s potential wage. Data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) confirm these implications when estimating a woman’s probability of having a second child as a function of education. This implies that middle-income women are the most affected ones by the lack of access to formal and subsidized childcare.


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Address correspondence to: Angela Greulich, Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Ined, 75013, Paris; e-mail:


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This paper has benefited greatly from comments from the editor, David de la Croix, an anonymous referee, Aurélien Dasré, Laurent Toulemon, and participants of the CREA workshop at the University of Luxembourg. This research was supported by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant DU 283953) and the “Chaire Transitions démographiques, Transitions économiques”. The data used in this study is from the World Bank World Development Indicators, the OECD Family Data Base and the European Commission, Eurostat, European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions, waves 2003 to 2011. The providers have no responsibility for the results and conclusions of the authors.



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