Shifting Parenthood to Advanced Reproductive Ages: Trends, Causes and Consequences

  • Tomáš SobotkaEmail author
Conference paper


In the last four decades, women and men in industrialised countries have been delaying parenthood towards ever later ages. This persistent trend, termed “postponement transition” by Kohler et al. (2002), has become characteristic for a wide range of countries with very diverse cultural, social and economic conditions. The rise of late parenthood has been enabled by the spread of modern contraception, especially the pill, combined with the legalisation of abortion; for the first time in history, young adults can enjoy a prolonged period of sexual activity without fear of unwanted pregnancy. At the same time, many social trends, including prolonged education, women’s emancipation and changing family behaviour, made early parenthood increasingly unattractive. Other milestones traditionally linked with achieving adulthood, such as finishing education, leaving the parental home, and forming a couple, have been postponed towards later ages as well. However, the postponement of births receives particular attention due to the concerns about the health risks associated with it and because of the fears of persistent low birth rates that are now common in most parts of Europe and in East Asia.


Total Fertility Rate Assisted Reproduction Assisted Reproduction Technology Childbearing Decision Labour Market Prospect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Many thanks to Egbert te Velde for his comments on the first draft of this contribution. Helpful suggestions by three reviewers and the participants of the WannseeForum workshop on “Easing the rush hour of life – diversity of life courses in international comparison” were also highly appreciated.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vienna Institute of DemographyAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria

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