Remarkable Regularities in the Association of Maternal and Paternal Ages at Childbirth: Evidence From 15 High-Income Countries

Christian Dudel , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Yen-hsin Cheng, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica
Sebastian Kluesener, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

Trends in ages at childbirth are usually analyzed separately for women and men. We present for the first time a systematic cross-country comparative investigation of the relationship between maternal and paternal ages at childbirth, based on vital registration data covering 315,265,219 births. We show that cross-sectional age differences between parents at childbirth frequently follow an almost linear relationship. Over the ages from 20 to 40, age differences become smaller for mothers and larger for fathers. In recent decades, the negative slope has become steeper for mothers. Younger mothers are increasingly partnered with older men, whereas older mothers have become more likely to be partnered with similar-aged men. Fathers, on the other hand, display decreasing age differences at all ages. Potential causes of these trends include: (1) increasing economic instability in post-industrial contexts; (2) SES-differentiated postponement due to women’s educational upgrading; (3) growing economic independence of older mothers.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 1. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, & Reproductive Health 1