December 2008

IZA DP No. 3907: Explaining How Delayed Motherhood Affects Fertility Dynamics in Europe

revised version published as 'The Effect of Delaying Motherhood on the Second Childbirth in Europe' in: Journal of Population Economics, 2011, 25 (1), 291-321

This paper analyzes the effect of delayed motherhood on fertility dynamics for women living in several European countries, which differ in terms of their institutional environments. We show that the effect of delaying the first child on the transition to the second birth differs both among working and non-working women and across countries. For non-working women delayed motherhood leads to a postponement effect which is higher in countries where religion and social norms determine a relative larger stigma effect for giving birth late. For working women, delaying the first birth raises the likelihood of progressing to the second parity due to an income effect, which is larger in countries with high childcare provision and part-time employment opportunities. We show that the overall effect of delayed motherhood depends on these two opposite forces, which are determined by the institutional environment.