Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers 02/2003
In the European context Austria's population has a tradition of low fertility. Between the world wars of the 20th century Austria had the lowest fertility in Europe. It recovered most notably during the 1950s and early 1960s, but has been declining ever since. Contemporary childbearing trends and patterns are characterised by a continuing delay in childbearing which started with women born in the late 1940s. Women born during the 1970s had lower fertility than any previous cohorts. Whether they were postponing their births and/or many of them deciding not to have any children remains to be seen. In the cohorts of the mid- to late 1960s only about three-quarters of all women had a first birth and around one-quarter of Austrian women remained childless. This is one of the highest known proportions of childless women in Europe. At the turn of the century ideal and actual expected family size were among the lowest in Europe, 1.7 and 1.5 children per couple, respectively. Childbearing behaviour of its young inhabitants suggests that Austria will reassume the tradition of having one of the lowest fertility levels in Europe during the initial years, possibly decades, of the 21st century. If these low fertility levels were to persist, a considerable decline in population size as well as rapid population ageing are inevitable implying the need for societal and policy adjustments.
Austria fertility cohort fertility age patterns of fertility parity distribution childlessness international comparative analysis