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Advantages of later motherhood
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany; London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
Number of Authors: 3
2017 (English)In: Der Gynäkologe, ISSN 0017-5994, E-ISSN 1433-0393, Vol. 50, no 10, 767-772 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

In high-income countries childbearing has been increasingly postponed since the 1970s and it is crucial to understand the consequences of this demographic shift. The literature has tended to characterize later motherhood as a significant health threat for children and parents.

Objectives

We contribute to this debate by reviewing recent evidence suggesting that an older maternal age can also have positive effects.

Materials

Literature linking the age at parenthood with the sociodemographic characteristics of the parents, with macrolevel interactions, and with subjective well-being.

Methods

Comprehensive review of the existing literature.

Results

Recent studies show that there can also be advantages associated with later motherhood. First, whilst in past older mothers had low levels of education and large families, currently older mothers tend to have higher education and smaller families than their younger peers. Consequently, children born to older mothers in the past tended to have worse outcomes than children born to younger mothers, whilst the opposite is true in recent cohorts. Second, postponement of childbearing means that the child is born at a later date and in a later birth cohort, and may benefit from secular changes in the macroenvironment. Evidence shows that when the positive trends in the macroenvironment are strong they overweigh the negative effects of reproductive ageing. Third, existing studies show that happiness increases around and after childbirth among older mothers, whereas for younger mothers the effect does not exist or is short-lived.

Conclusion

There are important sociodemographic pathways associated with postponement of childbearing which might compensate or even more than compensate for the biological disadvantages associated with reproductive ageing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 50, no 10, 767-772 p.
Keyword [en]
Pregnancy, Maternal age, Maternal health, Socioeconomic status, Well-being
National Category
Clinical Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-149866DOI: 10.1007/s00129-017-4124-1ISI: 000414596900008PubMedID: 29070913OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-149866DiVA: diva2:1164679
Available from: 2017-12-11 Created: 2017-12-11 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved

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