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Educational gradients in the prevalence of medically assisted reproduction births in a comparative perspective.

OBJECTIVE: To study educational gradients in births after medical assisted reproduction across five countries with different institutional arrangements.

DESIGN: We use logistic regression and compute predicted probabilities to estimate the association between education and giving birth after assisted reproduction, before and after adjustment for maternal age at delivery and marital/partnership status, using an overall sample of about 3.9 million live births in five countries.

SUBJECTS: This study includes survey or register data containing information on births in five countries: N=61, 564 for Denmark, N= 37,533 for France, N=12,889 for Spain, N= 17,097 for the United Kingdom, and N=3,700,442 for the United States.

INTERVENTION (FOR RCT) OR EXPOSURE (FOR OBSERVATIONAL STUDIES): None.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Probability of a child being born after medically assisted reproduction for mothers with a university degree relative to those having less than a university degree.

RESULTS: University educated mothers are more likely to give birth after assisted reproduction compared to mothers with lower levels of education. After adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics, educational differences disappear in the United Kingdom and to some extent Spain, whilst they attenuate but persist in the other countries. The United States seems to show a larger educational gradient.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the institutional setting around assisted reproduction may moderate the gradient. A possible explanation may be access to treatments, as the United States - the context with the lowest subsidization - seems to show larger educational gradients than other contexts. In a context of global postponement of childbearing to older ages, mothers with lower levels of socioeconomic resources might find it more difficult to fully realise their fertility intentions in countries with a less generous subsidization of treatments.

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