The Demography of the Age at First Birth: The Close Relationship between Having Children and Postponement



This chapter overviews the demography of the age at first birth, its causes and consequences: at what age do women nowadays have their first child, how stable is that age pattern over time, and how similar is it across Europe? The chapter does not only reflect on the terminology used and on the demographic trends – the weakening of teenage pregnancies, and the shift in having the first child from ages between 22 and 25 to ages between 25 and 29 – but also on its determinants. Within the realm of the Second Demographic Transition we hold at issues like partnership formation, the use of effective contraceptives, childlessness, educational attainment, labour market participation, economic security, gender egalitarianism, and changing norms and values. Views on and expectations about many of these issues have changed significantly over the past decades. Modern young adults expect to be able to plan their lives, but can they decide rationally on having children or not and how to find the most optimal timing for the first child? The chapter also holds at a few related demographic issues: the relation between the age at first birth and family size, which can be perceived in two different ways (the period and a birth cohort perspective); the relation between the age at first birth and population size/population ageing; the age at first birth among immigrant populations; as well as several non-demographic consequences of late motherhood.


Birth Cohort Assisted Reproductive Technology Teenage Mother Modern Contraceptive Fertility Pattern 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)The HagueThe Netherlands

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