Effects of the fertility transition on birth seasonality in the Netherlands

J Biosoc Sci. 2008 Sep;40(5):655-72. doi: 10.1017/S0021932008002733. Epub 2008 Jan 31.


Synchronous with the decline in fertility that took place in the post-war period in the Netherlands, patterns of birth seasonality changed as well. In this paper seasonal fluctuations in fertility in the Netherlands are examined using population register data for the period 1952 to 2005. The peak in births has changed from spring to summer and subsequently to August/September, thereby shifting from the European to the American pattern. The seasonal shift can be attributed to parity-specific changes. Before the transition, birth seasonality did not differ much between the different parities. In the transition period from higher to low fertility, differences between parities increased which persist up to today. At present, the overall seasonality pattern is determined by first births. Moreover, birth seasonality varies by maternal age. The findings stimulate the discussion on the role of planning as a cause of birth seasonality.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Rate / trends*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Parity
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy
  • Seasons*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data