The ReCap Project

The ReCap projects examines the dynamics between reproductive decision-making and human capital. Using a cross-country comparative approach, it investigates the
conditions under which a positive relationship between women’s educational level and childbearing intentions is observed.


In recent years, increasing shares of women have made large investments in education. Whether and to what extent these investments are in conflict with women’s childbearing intentions are issues that have important repercussions for fertility levels and population ageing.

Main objective

The project’s main research question is whether, and to what extent, highly educated women are able to anticipate the negative effects of postponement on their reproductive career by incorporating them into their personal lifetime fertility intentions; and to what extent they still desire and plan—maybe unrealistically—a family with two (or more) children.

Education increases people’s ability to learn later in life and to live healthier lives, therefore, the main emphasis of the project on this specific component of human capital is warranted.

Method and work plan

The starting point of the ReCap project is a meta-analysis of all relevant available studies addressing the link between fertility intentions and human capital with the following aims:

  • to assess the relationship between fertility decisions and education in a quantitative manner,
  • to inspect the temporal and cross-country variation in the fertility intention-education link.

The figure below shows the variation in the statistical association between women’s level of education and intended family size in selected studies conducted between 1990 and 2011.


In a second stage, selected and unresolved issues derived from the meta-analysis will be examined with the aim to shed light on the reasons behind the existent contradictory findings.

Main output

The results obtained within the framework of the project will upgrade the scientific knowledge on reproductive decision-making within different social groups and may thus warrant a more diversified and sophisticated policy intervention.