Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers No. 02/2017
Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), Vienna Institute of Demography (VID), Vienna
Delayed parenthood is a central feature of the massive transformation of family and reproduction in rich countries. We analyse the shift of motherhood towards later reproductive ages during the last four decades and review its consequences for children and their mothers in low-fertility countries in Europe, North America, Oceania and East Asia. First we analyse the trends in birth rates at advanced reproductive ages (35+), including trends at very high reproductive ages (50+) and detailing the rapid rise in first and second birth rates at that ages. We show that a relatively high share of childless women and of women with one child aged 35-44 still plan to have a(nother) child in the future. Subsequently, we discuss the limited success rates of assisted reproduction at advanced reproductive ages and its contribution to parenthood at later ages. Next we outline the key drivers of delayed parenthood and its demographic consequences. Finally, we briefly review the consequences of delayed motherhood for pregnancy outcomes, maternal and child health and highlight selected positive consequences of later parenthood for mothers and children. We argue that economic and social rationales for late reproduction clash with the biological and health rationales for having children earlier in life.
advanced parental ages higher reproductive ages delayed childbearing fertility intentions reproductive aging assisted reproduction low-fertility countries Europe United States