Women’s mean age at first birth steeply increased by as many as 4–5 years during the second half of the twentieth century throughout Europe and the United States, and was accompanied by an overall increase in educational attainment. It has been argued that the educational expansion is largely responsible for fertility postponement for a number of reasons. Being enrolled in education may, for example, lead to postponement of childbearing because combining student and mother roles is difficult, given that they both entail time-intensive tasks. Continue reading
There is a well-established empirical association between parental age and children’s well being. Typically, children of teenage parents and parents with a very late age at first birth are worse off in terms of their socio-economic status and (mental) health compared to children of 20-35 years old mothers. So far, this relationship has been attributed to unstable relationships of young parents and their low economic resources as well as the decreasing (physical) health of older parents which, for example, may complicate conception, pregnancy and birth (for an excellent demographic introduction into the topic please check out the dissertation of Alice Goisis at LSE: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/844/).
To what extent do genes determine when you have your first child and the total number of children that you have? Until now, social science research on fertility has largely ignored genetic explanations and instead attributed our fertility behaviour almost exclusively to the social environment and upbringing, postponement of having children in lieu of educational attainment and labour force participation and value change. Yet a growing number of studies within biology, demography, and genetics have shown that genetic factors can explain up to 40–50 % of our fertility behaviour.